Tag Archives: Leonid Ivashov

Ivashov on the Army and Putin

Leonid Ivashov

Leonid Ivashov recently talked to Narodnyy politolog on a variety of army topics including reforms, the possibility of a big war, rearmament, president-elect Vladimir Putin, and his military program.  Segodnia.ru also printed the interview.

Once Russia’s top military diplomat, now avowed geopolitician, the former three-star thinks Putin fears externally-driven regime change and is improving the army to forestall such an eventuality.  Ivashov sees a U.S.-led West depriving Russia of allies before focusing on Russia itself.

Asked about army reforms, Ivashov says they have succeeded in cutting forces, but not in rearming them or improving their social conditions.  Reforms have degraded and weakened the army.  Military men mock the New Profile reforms saying, “There’s a profile, but not armed forces.”  Ivashov calls reforms craziness, and says it’s like servicemen have lived in a house under continuous repair for 25 years.

Following up his comment on mobilization reserves cut to the bare minimum, NP asked the retired general-colonel if a big war is possible today.

Ivashov says yes.  Citing how “they” are beating up Russia’s strategic allies (Syria and Iran), he says “What is this if not war?”

Ivashov foresees a large conflict between the U.S. and China and possible spinoff regional and local wars.  He cites a Chinese specialist who calls for a Russian-Chinese alliance to deter a big war and curb the appetite of the West and international oligarchs.

Is Russia ready for such an eventuality?  Ivashov answers:

“I think Putin understands perfectly how military weakness and the absence of strategic allies can be the end for Russia.  Clearly, the Libyan situation ‘helped’ him understand this, just like what is happening now in Syria, and what they are preparing for Iran.  If you can’t defend the country, you are subjecting yourself to a great risk personally.”

“Now Putin is making a sharp turn to the side of strengthening defense capability.  One can only welcome this.  Because today they don’t simply beat the weak, they destroy them.”

Ivashov calls Putin’s military program ambitious, if not systematic.  The regime’s been in a “light panic” since Libya.

He intimates that more than 20 percent of the state armaments program will be stolen since the amount of theft cited by the military prosecutor covers only cases under investigation, not all corruption.

Ivashov suggests lobbying has replaced forecasts of future military actions as the driver of arms procurement.

The case of Mistral, which one wonders where it will be built and how it will be used, Ivashov says well-connected lobbyist structures ensure what gets produced is exactly what their enterprises make.  He was somewhat encouraged that Putin, at Sarov, entertained turning to specialists and experts to examine the army’s requirements.

On GPV 2020, Ivashov concludes it’ll be a serious step forward if only half of what’s planned gets produced, but it can’t be equipment designed in the 1970s and 1980s.  He sees OPK production capacity problems too.  He questions whether Votkinsk can produce 400 solid-fueled ballistic missiles by 2020.

Returning to the big war, he questions a focus on defensive operations for Russian conventional forces, saying offensive capabilities are needed to deter potential enemies.  He claims reduced force structure and mobilization capability have become a joke in the General Staff:

“The main problem for the Chinese in a conflict with us is not defeating our brigade, but finding it.”

Ivashov’s just a little up in arms over the armor situation.  He all but accuses the General Staff Chief of being a paid (or bribed) lobbyist for foreign tank and armored vehicle makers.  He suggests that Army General Makarov should be placed in cuffs if he says the Leopard-2 is better than the T-90 [what about Postnikov then?], and the Main Military Prosecutor should investigate him.

So what is to be done first and foremost to strengthen the country’s defense capability today?

Ivashov replies get rid of Serdyukov and Makarov who have done great damage, and strengthen cadres in the OPK and military by replacing “managers” with those who can apply military science (as Ivashov was taught) to the problem of developing new weapons.

The always provocative Ivashov doesn’t venture whether he thinks  the current emphasis on defense capability will continue or have the intended results.  He seems sincerely to believe in a possible Western intervention in Russia’s internal affairs.  But it’d be more interesting to hear him talk about whether the army would fight for Putin’s regime in something less than that maximal contingency.  Ivashov, unlike some critics of Russia’s defense policy, shies away from blaming the once-and-future Supreme CINC for at least some of the current military state of affairs.

Ivashov’s Inevitable Revolution

Leonid Ivashov

Ex-GU MVS Chief, retired General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov was apparently either asked or inspired to comment recently on the revolutions in North Africa.  And his comments got some press play beyond the blog where they originally appeared.  Ivashov is an inveterate conservative who always has sharp jabs for the U.S., NATO, and globalization.  But he’s an interesting guy whose anti-Western commentaries usually end up criticizing the Kremlin and Russian policies as well.

They apparently asked Ivashov whether Russia needs to fear a repetition of Tunisian, Egyptian, or Libyan events.  He goes on for a couple paragraphs with his view that the Arab world’s lagging behind in economic and social development explains what happened in North Africa.  Then he turns to its relevance for Russia:

“The situation is much more complex in Russia.  A revolution here is unavoidable.  It will become an attempt to find its own future and course of development that preserves Russia as a unitary state, both Russian and remaining native peoples – as a national-social formation.  Under the current course and regime, Russia has no future.  Catastrophe looms ahead – the country’s division and collapse, the departure of the Russian world from the historical arena.  These are objective data – when you look at government statistics even, your hairs stand on end.  There are approximately one hundred million Russians, 23 million alcoholics, 6 million drug addicts, 6 million sick with AIDS, 4 million prostitutes.  We have the very highest percentage of disadvantaged families, for every thousand marriages, 640 divorces.  Revolutionary transformations are simply necessary.  Let’s hope to God they come in a peaceful way.”

“What is happening now in the Middle East gives us reason to talk also about our degradation.  Yes, Mubarak, Qaddafi and the rest stole, hoarded riches for themselves, however there has never been in the history of a single state such complete plunder as is occurring now in Russia.  Two oligarchic clans, privatizers of resources and bureaucrats have sucked everything out of the people and the country.  Real incomes of the population in January compared with January of last year have decreased by 47%.  Oil gets more expensive — our gas gets more expensive.  Oil gets cheaper — our gas still gets more expensive.  Prices for food and other things constantly increase.”

“A handful of powerful bureaucrats and oligarchs close to them understand perfectly that there’s no avoiding a revolution.  Therefore they’re hurrying to suck everything up and tie their business to foreign structures.  So that when they start taking their assets away, they can call on NATO to defend them.”

“Russia doesn’t have its own Middle East geopolitical project.  We are extremely inconsistent — we sign military agreements with Israel, we institute sanctions against Iran, irritating the Islamic world.  Medvedev calls Qaddafi a criminal for firing on his own people.  At the same time, they put up monuments to Yeltsin who fired on his own people and his own parliament.  Such a contradiction shows the complete cynicism of our current vlasti.”

“The fighting in Russia will undoubtedly begin, and it will be, unfortunately, much more severe — since the country is multinational.  In the Middle East, they call their own Arab presidents occupiers, but we also have other peoples.  And if anti-Semitism in the Arab East is aimed beyond the borders of their own countries, at Israel or the U.S., then Russian anti-Semitism is directed inward.”

Early Bidding on VKO

2011 should be interesting on the Aerospace Defense (VKO or ВКО) front. 

The President’s poslaniye has been turned into orders, including Medvedev’s directive to unify missile defense (PRO), air defense (PVO), missile attack warning (PRN), and space monitoring systems under the command and control of a single strategic command before next December.

This issue will likely take more than a year to come to any kind of resolution.  Moreover, it’s likely to be a bruising bureaucratic battle royale over control and organization that does nothing to improve Russia’s military capabilities, certainly in the near-term and possibly longer. 

Both Deynekin and Svpressa.ru below make the point that there are real live officers who’ll get jerked around (again) by major moves in aerospace-related branches.  Konovalov wonders whether the Kremlin won’t spend too much effort against the wrong threat.

According to RIA Novosti, a Defense Ministry source says the issue of establishing this command by taking PVO from the Air Forces (VVS) and giving it to the Space Troops (KV) is being worked.  And he doesn’t rule out that “significant organizational and structural changes” could occur in the KV.  But, of course, the final decision on this strategic command lies with the Supreme CINC.

RIA Novosti interviewed former VVS CINC, Army General Petr Deynekin, who said:

“. . . the new structure [VKO] shouldn’t be subordinate to some new command.  It should go under the Air Forces, since they are the most modern service of the armed forces.”

He also warned the Defense Ministry against a reorganization which creates more tension in the officer corps.

Olga Bozhyeva in Moskovskiy komsomolets reviews the past history of transformations involving PVO and Missile-Space Defense (RKO), and concludes the VVS and KV will both end up subordinate to a new command under the General Staff.

Interviewed for Novyy region, Leonid Ivashov sees nothing new in Medvedev’s order on a unitary VKO command.  But it will be an uphill task.  He says Russia currently has practically no missile defense system.  The PVO system’s been reduced to point defense, and it doesn’t cover much of Russia’s territory.  More than anything, he sees it as a defense-industrial issue – can the OPK provide the military with new air and space defense systems?

Svpressa.ru concludes there’s no doubt aerospace attack is Russia’s biggest threat, but over the last two decades armed forces reformers have just played their favorite game of putting services and branches together and taking them apart again, and:

“No one considers the money and material resources expended, or even the fates of thousands of officers who’ve fallen under the chariot wheel of organizational-personnel measures.”

Svpressa.ru describes how RKO and the Military-Space Forces (VKS) went to the RVSN under Defense Minister Sergeyev in 1997, then PVO went to the VVS, and they had to create the KV as a home for elements the RVSN no longer wanted in 2001.  The article concludes that this kept VKO divided in half.  Now VVS and KV generals are already hotly debating how Medvedev’s new order on VKO will be implemented.

Svpressa.ru asked Aleksandr Konovalov what he thinks.  Konovalov says VKO is being created against the U.S., when Russia faces more immediate threats from countries without any space capabilities.

In terms of how a unitary strategic command of VKO might be established, Konovalov concludes:

“It’s still impossible to judge this.  I think Serdyukov doesn’t know the answer to this question yet.  Another thing worries me more.  Here we’ve created four operational-strategic [sic] commands – ‘East,’ ‘Center,’ ‘South,’ and ‘West’ – in the Armed Forces in the event of war.  And in peacetime on these borders four military districts remain.  I can’t understand how they will interact.  And it’s all right if I don’t understand.  It’s worse if the Defense Ministry itself is also ignorant.  Judging by everything, it’s impossible to rule this out.  And there are much more real enemies than the U.S. against these newly-minted operational-strategic [sic] commands and districts.  That’s something to think about.  But VKO . . .  If there’s extra money, VKO could also be created.  It could be useful some time.”

Return to Cam Ranh?

Russia Departs Cam Ranh in 2002 (photo: ITAR-TASS)

The Russian Navy’s possible return to Vietnam became the latest military rumor floated in the media last week.  If it happens, it won’t have exactly the same purposes as in 1979, and it probably won’t be on the same scale.  But it will be part and parcel of the issue of being, or wanting to remain, a naval power.  Moscow might have to ask itself if it still is one, or will be one in the future.

On Wednesday, former Navy Main Staff Chief, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko told Interfaks the Navy is proposing to reestablish a material-technical support base (PMTO or ПМТО) at Cam Ranh.

The news service quotes Kravchenko:

“Without a system of bases for deployment, full support of Navy ships in distant waters is problematic.  Navy surface ships and submarines need repair, resupply, and crew rest to fulfill a wide range of missions on the world’s oceans.  If as before Russia considers itself a naval power, the reestablishment and creation of basing points like Cam Ranh is unavoidable.”

A Defense Ministry source told Nezavisimaya gazeta that:

“The [Navy] Glavkomat has finished work on the documents considering and substantiating the need to reestablish a basing point to support Russian ships in the Asia-Pacific region.  If there is a political decision, then the Navy is prepared to reestablish a working base in three years.”

The base would support ships on antipiracy missions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to the source.

The Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Military-Technical Cooperation, former Captain First Rank Mikhail Nenashev told Interfaks:

“The rent for a naval base at Cam Ranh, in the end, would cost Russia less than regular support of combatants on the world’s oceans using auxiliary ships, tankers, and repair ships.”

And:

“Reestablishing a base at Cam Ranh would help strengthen and develop cooperation with Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region countries not only in military, but in many others spheres of activity.”

Izvestiya says, Moscow doesn’t intend to return to a Cold War-style global military confrontation with Washington – it has not the forces, means, or desire for it – but the ‘Cam Ranh initiative’ shows that a gradual reanimation of specific military bases abroad could happen.

According to Newsru.com and Vremya novostey, in 1979, Moscow and Hanoi signed a 25-year agreement by which the Soviet Pacific Fleet’s 17th Squadron gained access to Cam Ranh.  Vietnam allowed the Soviet Navy to base 10 surface ships, 8 submarines with a submarine support ship, and 6 auxiliaries at the port.  Later, the 922nd PMTO was established at the Vietnamese port.  The Soviets had POL storage, an ASW and missile armaments base and technical service unit, a Naval Infantry sub-unit, and an air regiment at Cam Ranh.

The base was initially free, but Hanoi asked for $300 million in rent in 1998.  In 2001, Moscow decided not to extend its agreement with Vietnam, and the last Russian elements departed Cam Ranh in mid-2002.  The decisionmaking around the Cam Ranh withdrawal (likewise for Lourdes, Cuba) is anything but clear-cut.  But then President Putin probably made the decision, reportedly against the advice of many senior uniformed officers, in an effort to save money for the military at home, and to make nice with Washington.  Former high-ranking General Staff officer Leonid Ivashov claims the $300 million rent, at least, shouldn’t have been an issue since it could have been written off against Vietnam’s $10 billion debt to Moscow.

Prime Minister Putin’s December 2009 Hanoi visit and major arms deal, including six proyekt 636 diesel submarines, with Vietnam may have started movement on a return to Cam Ranh.  Defense Minister Serdyukov went to Hanoi in February and told Rossiyskaya gazeta the Vietnamese were very interested in constructing a Navy repair plant and Russian help with naval logistics.  However, Serdyukov claimed the Vietnamese didn’t propose anything about Cam Ranh.  But NG’s Vladimir Mukhin speculates a deal for a renewed Russian presence at the base might be inked during President Medvedev’s late October trip to Vietnam.

Izvestiya quotes independent military analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin:

“Theoretically, I welcome the reestablishment of a Navy base at Cam Ranh.  For Russia, it is a very composite and most useful facility abroad. Without it, the operations of the Pacific Fleet are impeded.  Also very little remains of the Pacific Fleet.  This fact, however, doesn’t change the usefulness of the base at Cam Ranh.  Such a step could, of course, create certain foreign policy difficulties for Russia.  I suppose the U.S. and China will express dissatisfaction, but this will hardly have any real effect.  As concerns Vietnam, it would pay to view it as our most important ally.  Russia largely cast it aside after the collapse of the USSR.  This was a gross mistake worth correcting.”

It’s worth recalling Khramchikhin may view Vietnam through a slightly Sinophobic prism.

Talking to NG, Duma Deputy, and former Black Sea Fleet commander, Vladimir Komoyedov worries there won’t be anything to deploy at Cam Ranh:

“The Pacific Fleet, whose ships need to control the waters of South-East Asia, has hardly received any new units for the last two decades.  And what will we deploy to Cam Ranh?”

The Military Elite

Vitaliy Shlykov (photo: Sergey Melikhov)

This is something sure to be overlooked, but it’s fun, interesting, and worth considering.

Every year Russkiy reporter selects its 100-person elite of Russia in various categories — artists, educators, journalists, doctors, businessmen, social activists, scholars, lawyers, bureaucrats, and military men.

The magazine touts its selections as people the country needs to know and listen to.  It calls them authoritative and influential people; they aren’t necessarily the most powerful or widely known.

It’s worth knowing who the magazine believes is influencing military thinking and men in uniform.  You read what many of them write on these very pages.  Picking only ten had to be hard.  One can think of dozens of others.

The article also has a short interview with one of the ten, Vitaliy ShlykovRusskiy reporter asked him what it means to be authoritative in the military, what society thinks of the military, and whether the military influences the authorities.  It’s worth reading.

Without further ado, the military elite are:

  • Makhmut Gareyev
  • Vladimir Dvorkin
  • Vladimir Shamanov
  • Vladimir Popovkin
  • Vitaliy Shlykov
  • Vladimir Bakin
  • Vladimir Boldyrev
  • Mikhail Pogosyan
  • Leonid Ivashov
  • Nikolay Makarov

Fifth Generation Helicopter

Andrey Shibitov

In a 13 May news conference, OAO Helicopters of Russia Executive Director Andrey Shibitov described the company’s work on a concept for a fifth generation helicopter.  His comments to the press came in advance of HeliRussia-2010 beginning today in Moscow. 

Shibitov said:

“We are actively working on the concept of a fifth generation combat helicopter.  Wind tunnel testing of two aerodynamic designs coaxial [Kamov] and traditional [Mil] has begun.  Initial results have been received.  Which of the two designs we’ll pick will become clear in the first quarter of 2011.”

According to Gzt.ru, Shibitov claimed OAO Helicopters is willing to invest $1 billion in its development, and is looking for state investment beyond that amount.

Neither OAO Helicopters nor the Defense Ministry is talking specifics about the new helicopter, but former VVS CINC Aleksandr Kornukov stated the obvious when he told Gzt.ru a fifth generation helicopter needs to be quiet and stealthy.  According to Newsru.com, Kornukov also stated a preference for two pilots in a side-by-side configuration.

In Gzt.ru, former army aviation commander, retired General-Colonel Vitaliy Pavlov said noise isn’t so significant since Mil’s X-shaped tail rotor already reduced noise on the Mi-28 by 15 percent (in comparison with its Mi-24 predecessor), but he added that reworking the engine could further reduce noise.  Pavlov doesn’t see great importance in increasing flight speed.  He sees the coaxial Kamov design as more reliable, but Mil’s traditional rotor system as more stable.  He also likes the maneuverability of Kamov’s helicopters, but he still thinks it’ll be a difficult choice between the two producers.

Also in Gzt.ru, Defense Ministry critic, retired General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov said the fifth generation helicopter could be stillborn:

“If there isn’t a state order for this aircraft, it will wither.  We’re grasping at all fifth generation aircraft, fifth generation helicopters, but for some reason none of this is coming to the troops, today we have helicopters from the 1970s in the army.  So the country’s leadership shouldn’t just rejoice at new equipment in various air shows, but also buy it for the troops.”

Then Ivashov’s deputy at the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, takes over, citing his definition of a fifth generation helicopter—increased range, ‘fire and forget’ weapons, capability to engage fixed-wing aircraft, low radar detectability, and speed up to 500-600 km/h.  Sivkov sees noise reduction as secondary since radar can detect helicopters at a 150-200 km range.

Sivkov thinks, under favorable conditions—steady financing, cooperative work by the design bureaus and factories—a new helicopter could be developed in 5 years, but, absent those conditions, development could take 20 or 30 years.

Dmitriy Litovkin in Izvestiya covers a lot of the same information on the pre-design research and wind tunnel blowdown of the prototypes.  He says the so-called Ka-90’s ‘dual-contour’ jet engine could develop speeds over 800 km/h, and he cites a system development timeframe of 5-8 years.  According to him, work is focusing on canted blades with thrust vectoring as well as a new blade design.

He believes one of the designs will win out, but there could be a third hybrid design.  But he thinks there’s little time to waste since the U.S. is already testing new designs, albeit unsuccessfully thus far. 

Writing in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, Viktor Litovkin notes three named prototypes–Mi-X1, Ka-90, and Ka-92. 

Shibitov also talked to the press about OAO Helicopters’ record state defense order from army aviation in 2010.  He said:

“A year ago I said it was a shame the Defense Minister wasn’t buying new helicopters.  Beginning this year, I can’t say this.  Finally conscious, sensible purchases of military equipment have begun.”

“We got a record order from the Defense Ministry for purchases of combat, strike, and reconnaissance helicopters in the basic and supplementary order.  Unfortunately, we can’t fulfill the supplementary order because other commercial projects are being completed.”

“From this year, we’re delivering volume for the Defense Ministry comparable with all export deliveries of combat and strike helicopters.  In the course of the coming five years this tempo will continue, and in the period to 2017-2020 the Russian Air Forces will renew its complement of combat, strike, and reconnaissance helicopters by 85-90 percent.”

Aviaport.ru indicated the armed forces will also receive their first Mi-35D, Mi-24D, and Ka-226T helicopters, previously produced only for foreign customers.  OAO Helicopters is reportedly looking at modernizing Ka-29 or Ka-32 helicopters for Mistral, but Ka-52 is another candidate for shipboard helicopter.

CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko puts the armed forces helicopter inventory at 850, of which 90 percent is obsolete.  He estimates it’ll cost $8 billion to renew this force.

There is evidence of life in Russian military helicopter procurement.  Talking about the GOZ, President Medvedev said 30 would be bought this year, and Defense Minister Serdyukov claimed the army got 41 during 2009.  In late 2008, VVS CINC Zelin said the plan was to obtain 100 new helicopters over 4 years, so these numbers would be in that range.

New Chief of Defense Minister’s Apparat

Mikhail Mokretsov (photo: RIA Novosti)

Yesterday’s press announced that Mikhail Mokretsov, ex-Director of the Federal Tax Service (FNS) and long-time colleague of Anatoliy Serdyukov, will be the Defense Minister’s Apparat Chief.  

Kommersant says Serdyukov had largely kept his old team in place, and still influenced personnel decisions in the Finance Ministry’s FNS.  And the FNS has been a stable supplier of high-level cadres for Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry.  Along with ex-deputy directors of the FNS Dmitriy Chushkin and Yevgeniy Vechko, not less than 10 other highly placed former tax service officials have come over to Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry. 

Kommersant indicates this may represent the end of Serdyukov’s ‘agreement’ with Finance Minister Kudrin to leave his old cronies in place in the FNS for three years.

Mokretsov’s work in the tax service has drawn some praise.  Deputy Chairman of the Duma’s Budget Committee Andrey Makarov says the Defense Ministry can use another strong manager like Mokretsov, and he adds:

“The main thing in reforming the army is to stop the stealing.  Control and auditing are essential there.”

Perhaps playing the provocateur, Gzt.ru suggests that some in the Genshtab see Mokretsov’s arrival as a precursor to Serdyukov’s departure from the Defense Ministry.  Under this scenario, Serdyukov would be preparing Mokretsov to take his place as Defense Minister when he moves to a higher post.  But a PA source denied any prospect for a change of Defense Minister and specifically ruled out Mokretsov’s chances.

Mokretsov will occupy a long-vacant post.  Its last occupant, Andrey Chobotov left with former Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov when he became Deputy Prime Minister.  Chobotov apparently works in Ivanov’s office and in the government’s Military-Industrial Commission (VPK).  Since Chobotov had the job, the apparat has been considered a Defense Ministry ‘service’ [not to be confused with an armed service] and this brings its chief the title of Deputy Defense Minister.

According to Gzt.ru, retired General-Lieutenant Andrey Kazakov has been the acting apparat chief since Chobotov’s departure.  Kazakov has served in the Defense Minister’s apparat, primarily as Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Affairs Directorate, since at least 2001.

The apparat chief wields serious power–at least within the administrative system.  According to Gzt.ru, he is not simply the Defense Minister’s right hand.  He’s a chief of staff and critical gatekeeper whose agreement is necessary to get documents signed and decisions made.  This power is largely unofficial, deriving from personal proximity to the Defense Minister.

The apparat chief’s official, statutory powers are more modest.  Mil.ru lists six official elements under him.  The Expert Center of the RF Defense Minister’s Apparat is something of a ‘think tank’ preparing analytical information and reports on military-technical policy, force structure, and force development, under the Defense Minister’s direction.  The Main Legal Directorate of the RF Defense Ministry has been reinvigorated of late, and its role is self-evident.  The above-mentioned Affairs Directorate serves as property manager and business agent for the Defense Ministry in Moscow.   The Directorate of State Assessment of the RF Defense Ministry is responsible for ensuring that military infrastructure complies with an array of government regulations.  The apparat also includes, without explanation, Inspection of State Architectural-Construction Oversight and the Management Directorate of the RF Defense Ministry.

Gzt.ru got our old friend Leonid Ivashov to comment on yesterday’s news.  Ivashov hates to contemplate the idea of career growth for Serdyukov, and he thinks the idea of Serdyukov putting Mokretsov in place behind him is ‘patently untenable.’  He holds even less back than usual when he says:

“If the task is to destroy the country the way Serdyukov has destroyed the army, then such an appointment is possible.  Serdyukov is a destroyer.  And the fact that they are dragging their nonprofessionals into the [Defense] Ministry supports this.  It’s very sad that the Defense Minister of our country is first when it comes to being an example of corruption and disrespect for the army.  Mokretsov can’t help Serdyukov straighten out financial flows which go through the military department.  But he will absolutely help him steal from them.”

Ivashov goes on to complain about Serdyukov’s commercialization of Defense Ministry functions, e.g. turning rear services into Oboronservis.

Vitaliy Shlykov, who views Serdyukov favorably, sees the Mokretsov move as promoting creation of a civilian Defense Ministry that still doesn’t exist.  And Shlykov doesn’t see Serdyukov leaving the Defense Ministry since it is, in many ways, a higher post than a deputy prime minister with a portfolio, who doesn’t really run anything.

Today’s Vedomosti intimates that Mokretsov will focus on auditing the State Defense Order on the heels of Prime Minister Putin’s remarks this week about corruption, waste, and poor results in the OPK .

More about Mokretsov specifically . . .

He joined the tax service in 2000, moving quickly from department chief to deputy director of the Tax Ministry’s Directorate for St. Petersburg, deputy director of the Directorate for Moscow, and Chief of the Directorate for International Tax Relations.  In 2004, he became deputy director of the renamed Federal Tax Service under Serdyukov, and Director of the FNS in February 2007 when Serdyukov left for the Defense Ministry.  

The 49-year-old Mokretsov was born in Udmurtiya, and graduated in 1984 from the Leningrad Financial-Economic Institute.  He was called up after graduation and served two years as a finance officer in the Soviet Army.  Between 1986 and 2000, he worked in unnamed government and commercial enterprises in St. Petersburg.