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The Buzz Barometer: Serdyukov followed by CIA's Petraeus
November 10, 2012 14:54

There a couple of points almost all the press is unanimous about – the burly man was well-intentioned in his drive to reshape the army, but was way too arrogant when dealing with the housekeepers and supplies of the army – its generals and military plants.

The Independent has it wrong when it says he was “the first civilian to head Russia's Defence Ministry”. Actually, it was its previous chief, Sergey Ivanov, taking the helm of the one million force in 2001, who claimed this title. Serdyukov was the first defence minister who had no military or intelligence background.

Good minister

The Wired, the Economist, the Los Angeles Times has praised his push for reforms, citing his positive track record:

·  a massive restructuring of the armed forces management,

· a structure based on unwieldy divisions replaced with one based on smaller, nimbler brigades which became the main combat unit,

·  cuts in the number of officers from 400,000 to 220,000,

· creating a united strategic command controlling the land, air and sea forces to avoid duplication (lessons learned after the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia),

  • an almost threefold increase in the servicemen's wages,
  • 20 trillion roubles [about $630 billion] in state funds for an upgrade of the army's weaponry and equipment,
  • $1.7 billion purchase of Mistral-class assault ships from France in June 2011.

Bad minister

 

But despite a list of victories, as LA Times notes, Serdyukov made serious mistakes. In pursuit of cutting edge equipment, he bought Israeli drones which couldn’t work effectively in Russia’s climate, especially in winter.

He demanded high-end weaponry from the Russian defence industry and wanted to get it ‘tomorrow’, but the industry has been the weakest link in the system, as the Economist rightly points out. Showing disdain for Russian-made arms and vehicles won him many foes among the military-industrial complex and angered the country’s defence plants, says The Huffington Post.

The Economist reminds its readers that the industry has a strong lobby in the government – chest-beating nationalist Dmitry Rogozin, a populist deputy prime minister.  

The Financial Times also mentions General Nikolay Makarov, now replaced as the head of the military’s General Staff, who was a vocal critic of the defence industry, once refusing to buy a batch of the latest generation of the T-90 tank. The row prompted the workers at Uralvagonzavod, the state-owned factory that produces the tanks, to publicly challenge the minister in a televised talk show with the prime minister.

Femme Fatale

Adding fuel to the fire was Serdyukov’s alleged extramarital affair and consequent fallout with his father-in-law Viktor Zubkov, a staunch ally of the Russian president. The New York Times digs deep into it, citing Russian news reports that the ex-minister met investigators “in slippers and a bathrobe” at the woman’s apartment they came to search.

The newspaper also quotes anticorruption crusader Aleksey Navalny, who wrote in his blog that “in the understanding of our leaders, betraying the family is a crime more dangerous than theft or murder.”

Interestingly, it’s these romantic affairs that can brings giants off their feet both in Russia and the U.S. In an unexpected twist, CIA director David Petraeus resigned allegedly due to his extramarital affair.

It’s not spring that there’s definitely something in the air.



Sources: 

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.foxnews.com

http://www.bloomberg.com

http://www.msnbc.msn.com

http://josephpedepoetry.blogspot.ru

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

http://www.economist.com/

http://www.ft.com

http://www.independent.co.uk/

http://www.wired.com/

http://www.latimes.com/


Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Anatoly Serdyukov Defence Ministry Russian army Oboronservice  

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