To review this week . . . Prime Minister Putin’s current deadline for completing GOZ contracts is August 31, but it’s unlikely to be met, even by loyal Deputy PM and OSK Board Chairman Igor Sechin. Deputy Finance Minister Siluanov said Defense Ministry contracts are being made on credits and government-backed financing rather than cash. Putin said the price tag for GOZ-2011 is 750 billion rubles, but 30 percent of projected procurement still isn’t covered by contracts as the final third of the year begins.
How did the government, Defense Ministry, and OPK arrive at an August 31 deadline that’s unlikely to be met?
The latest round of this year’s GOZ woes started in early July when MIT General Designer Yuriy Solomonov told Kommersant that GOZ-2011 was already broken, and Russia’s strategic missile inventory is not being renewed as necessary. He said there’s no contract for the RS-24 / Yars ICBM, and the late arrival of money makes it impossible to salvage 2011.
President Dmitriy Medvedev responded by calling Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov on the carpet. According to RIA Novosti, he told him:
“Sort out the situation. If there’s information that the state defense order is broken, it’s true, organizational conclusions are needed in connection with those who are responsible for this, regardless of position or rank.”
“If the situation is otherwise, we need to look into those who are sowing panic. You know how according to law in wartime they dealt with panickers — they shot them. I’m allowing you to dismiss them, do you hear me?”
RIA Novosti reported Serdyukov’s opinion on the “wild growth” in the price of military products, especially from MIT and Sevmash. He said MIT is asking 3.9 billion and 5.6 billion rubles respectively for Topol-M and Yars ICBMs. Serdyukov put GOZ-2011 at 581 billion rubles [different from Putin's figure!], and added that only 108 billion, or 18.5 percent, was not yet under contract. He said everything would be done in 10 days.
At virtually the same time, Deputy PM and VPK Chairman, Sergey Ivanov told ITAR-TASS 230 billion rubles were not yet contracted out. OSK piled on Serdyukov, claiming contracts for 40 percent of the Navy’s share of the GOZ weren’t finalized.
In late July, it looked like Northern Wharf (which reportedly produces 75 percent of Russia’s surface ships, and is not part of OSK) might be made into an example for other “GOZ breakers.” While prosecutors talked vaguely about the misuse of GOZ money, the shipbuilder’s representatives apparently mounted a vigorous defense, asserting that the enterprise has been right on time, even though it’s underfinanced by the Defense Ministry.
Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy said prosecutors uncovered 1,500 GOZ-related legal violations during the preceding 18 months. He indicated there were 30 criminal convictions, and state losses amounted to millions of rubles in these cases. The most egregious example was the theft of over 260 million rubles given to OSK’s Zvezdochka shipyard to repair Kirov-class CGN Petr Velikiy. Fridinskiy indicated the enterprise director and his close associates apparently had 40 million of the money in their own names. Recall Fridinskiy earlier said 20 percent of defense procurement funding is stolen.
According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Defense Minister Serdyukov claimed he was on the verge of signing contracts with MIT for Topol-M and Yars production. Once again, he said all contracting would be finished in two weeks.
In mid-August, OSK enterprises Sevmash, Admiralty Wharves, and Zvezdochka said they would soon be forced to cease work unless the Defense Ministry signed contracts with them. Putin, Sechin, and Serdyukov met and launched a special interdepartmental commission to set prices for the Navy’s remaining 40 billion rubles in GOZ contracts. And, according to Kommersant, everyone was once again reassured that all contracts would be completed in two weeks.
And it’s not just all ICBMs, ships, and submarines . . . Kommersant wrote that the Defense Ministry eschewed contracts for 24 or more MiG-29K and more than 60 Yak-130 trainers at MAKS-2011.
So what does the mid-year GOZ picture look like?
The president and prime minister have fumed and set a series of deadlines, not met thus far. And the defense minister and deputy prime ministers have assured them they would meet each deadline in turn.
More interesting, and somewhat unnoticed, is the fact that the prime minister and defense minister (among others) seem to be consistently working from different sets of numbers on the size of the GOZ, and how much has been placed under contract. The GOZ hasn’t captured this kind of leadership attention at any time in the past 20 years.
Producers are being honest when they say late state contracts mean they can’t do anything (or at least what the Defense Ministry wants them to) in what remains of the year.
Picking up the pieces of GOZ-2011, and trying to put GOZ-2012 on a better footing will occupy the rest of this year.
Lost in everything is what will the Russian military get eventually by way of new hardware, and when will they get it? And how good will it be?