Media Review

27 february, 2012 13:40

RBC Daily: "Commander-in-Chief Putin"

The prime minister has committed to global peace.

The prime minister has committed to global peace.

At his meeting with military experts in Sarov, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did not "rattle his saber", but, nevertheless, apprehensively admitted that Russia is one or half a step ahead of the United States in nuclear deterrents. Putin stressed that Russia must preserve the balance of forces for humanity's sake and that the 23 trillion roubles allocated for this from the budget will not go astray.

"It is no exaggeration to say that the whole world needs this," Putin said speaking about the necessity to preserve the strategic balance with the United States. Russia's budget is prepared to use 23 trillion roubles for universal peace (to go towards the development, upgrading and technical re-arming of the army and navy and the modernisation of our defence industry).

Russia has strained itself to the limit to come up with these funds, and this huge sum has come out of what Putin has described as "a very tough, hard-hitting debate" between security-related and economic agencies.

But the means justify the end. "Only a few years ago, the NATO states would say to each other, even if not to us directly, 'Russia can mess around as much as it likes, we're not interested – all they have is a rusty heap of junk anyway,' said the prime minister. "But this is definitely not the case today."

Over the last four years, the armed forces have been issued with 39 intercontinental ballistic missiles, two new submarines (Yury Dolgoruky and Alexander Nevsky), 12 launchers for the Iskander missile systems and a wide range of other equipment. "Nuclear deterrents and missiles are our absolute priority," Putin went on. "In this area, we are a step ahead of our American partners: they have yet to build their new strategic missiles...I don't want to rattle my saber...but in this respect, we are half a step ahead of them."

Sergei Rogov, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for US and Canadian Studies, said that "if a Republican administration will come into the White House after the presidential elections, they will be "neocons" who will make even the Bush administration look like kids. We can expect a great deal of pressure both on AMD and over Ukraine and Georgia."

After a pause, Putin said "If they want to tighten the screws, they can keep right on going until their screwdriver snaps. They are pursuing a policy that is costly and ineffective."

America is losing control even over Europe, which, unlike Egypt, Syria and Iraq, is part of NATO. "Two leading European countries didn't support their main NATO allies in the Iraq operations..." Putin said. "Many people used to tell me – I won't name names and embarrass anyone – but many people in Europe used to say this to me: 'The Americans keep trying to scare us with you, but we aren't worried because we know Russia has changed and the world has changed."

But the save-the-world mission may turn out to be impossible. Igor Korotchenko, director of the World Arms Trade Analysis Center, is concerned that the allocated 23 trillion roubles will be carved up as per the usual rules of corruption. "This pie looks big, but there are no surplus ingredients in it," Putin said. He noted the intention to establish a special control system to monitor all defence contracts, including deadlines, costs, and contractors. "Anytime we see even the slightest change, say, in a deadline, alarm bells should start ringing," Putin said.

Pukhov mentioned rumours of a secret plan to cut military spending immediately after the presidential elections. Putin replied with a flat out "No!" There have always been disputes over how much money and time we will need to upgrade our armed forces, but they have ended and resulted in important decisions being taken, Putin explained. "In any case, our plans are not overly ambitious," he added.

Putin ended the meeting by adding "In general, it is about being philosophical. Russia's territory is colossal." After a pause, he went on: "We must insure its absolute defence, so that no one will be tempted to set foot here. All this talk that global resources should not belong to any single country should be scrapped; we should not even broach that topic."

Inga Vorobyeva, Sarov