Here's What You Need to Remember: It likely should come as no surprise that the Russian Defense Ministry all but flat out rejected the Finance Ministry’s proposal, and called the ten percent military personnel cuts as unacceptable. The Defense Ministry sent its reasoning to Russia’s Security Council.
There is no denying that the world economy has suffered due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and while belt-tightening has occurred worldwide, news circulated that the Kremlin was considering cutting the size of Russia’s armed forces. According to a report that was first published in the daily Izvestia, Russia’s Finance Ministry had proposed cutting the size of Russian military personnel by ten percent as a cost-cutting measure.
Tass reported that the proposal didn’t actually suggest that Russia’s armed forces would be weakened or that it would have fewer personnel ready to defend the motherland, however.
Rather, the Finance Ministry’s proposed downsizing included cutting free vacancies and transferring medics, lecturers, HR specialists, financiers, lawyers, and logistics personnel to civil service. Other proposed belt-tightening included raising the retirement age for those serving in the military, increasing the length of military service—including for those obtaining military mortgage loans, and even saving funds on military rations.
However, authorities in Moscow were quick to state no decision had been made.
“No decisions on this score have been made,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “Expert discussions may quite be held but no such issues are at the stage of making decisions.”
Defense Ministry’s Rejection
It likely should come as no surprise that the Russian Defense Ministry all but flat out rejected the Finance Ministry’s proposal, and called the ten percent military personnel cuts as unacceptable. The Defense Ministry sent its reasoning to Russia’s Security Council.
“The Defense Ministry of Russia thoroughly analyzed the substance of the proposals prepared by Russia’s Finance Ministry on cutting the size of the Armed Forces and changing some provisions of the system of social guarantees for servicemen,” the Defense Ministry statement read as reported by state media. “It sent its reasoning on the unacceptable nature of these proposals and the absence of their support from the leadership of the Defense Ministry to the Security Council of the Russian Federation.”
Strength and Structure
It has also been reported that the numerical strength and structure of the Russian armed forces have been defended by the supreme commander-in-chief, and takes into account “the entire range of tasks for effectively ensuring the state’s security.”
The Defense Ministry maintains that the Russian military currently has a stable manning system that is balanced by the number of positions filled by military servicemen as well as civilian personnel.
“The Finance Ministry’s proposals on cutting the positions will yield a zero economic effect as the funds for paying money allowance to servicemen are allocated for the real numbers,” the Ministry’s statement added, and called the provisions that would transfer servicemen to the civil service to be ineffective.
The Defense Ministry also noted that such efforts to transfer military personnel to civil service between 2007 and 2012 proved to be not only ineffective, but prompted numerous problems that affected the combat potential of the military.
Key Provisions Deemed Ineffective
The Defense Ministry also countered the other belt tightening suggestions from the Finance Ministry, and responded that the legal norms of the retirement provision are sealed in existing legislation. Moreover, those serve as the basis for measures of social support for servicemen and members of their families. The Defense Ministry even suggested that the Finance Ministry lacked an understanding on the procedure of defining military pensions.
Additionally, the size of the military retirement pay is based on the length of service and ranges from fifty percent of money allowance for twenty years of military service to eighty five percent for those who served thirty-two or more years.
“Considering the five-year increase in the maximum length of military service implemented by the Defense Ministry for various categories of servicemen, the Defense Ministry of Russia jointly with other federal bodies of executive and state power earlier considered in detail the possible increase in the minimum length of service entitling for retirement from 20 to 25 years on condition of providing compensatory norms and mechanisms to increase the general level of social protection for servicemen and military retirees,” the statement added.
A similar hard line was taken on the matter of military mortgage; with the Defense Ministry suggesting that the proposal to increase the accumulative mortgage system of housing provision by five years would only push up long-term expenditures on providing servicemen with housing or paying them compensations.
Finally, the Defense Ministry noted that military service is a special type of civil service—one that is related to the state’s defense and security. The Ministry added that servicemen accomplish tasks associated with threats to their life and health.
“The leadership of the Defense Ministry of Russia has rejected the measures proposed by the Finance Ministry,” the Defense Ministry statement noted. “At the same time, the Defense Ministry will continue comprehensive work aimed at expanding effective social protection measures for servicemen and members of their families.”
The calls to cut defense spending come just two months after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu issued demands to bring up to seventy percent of the equipment used by the troops to modern standards by the end of 2020.
Clearly, the treatment of soldiers to cut budgets is a universal issue and not one limited to Washington!
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. This article first appeared last year and is being republished due to reader interest.