Why Russia needs to rebuild its military.
In a world of upheaval there is always the temptation to resolve one’s problems at another’s expense, through pressure and force.
It is no surprise that some are calling for resources of global significance to be freed from the exclusive sovereignty of a single nation. This cannot happen to Russia, not even hypothetically.
In other words, we should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak. We will, under no circumstances, surrender our strategic deterrent capability. Indeed, we will strengthen it.
We will not be able to strengthen our international position or develop our economy or our democratic institutions if we are unable to protect Russia.
We see ever new regional and local wars breaking out. We see new areas of instability and deliberately managed chaos. There also are attempts to provoke such conflicts even close to Russia’s and its allies’ borders. The basic principles of international law are being degraded and eroded, especially in terms of international security.
Under these circumstances, Russia cannot rely on diplomatic and economic methods alone to resolve conflicts. Our country faces the task of sufficiently developing its military potential as part of a deterrence strategy. This is an indispensable condition for Russia to feel secure and for our partners to listen to our country’s arguments.
We have adopted and are implementing unprecedented programs to develop our armed forces and modernize Russia’s defense industry. We will allocate around 23 trillion rubles for these purposes over the next decade. This is not a militarization of the Russian budget, however.
Our goal should be to build a fully professional army. Servicemen must have a full package of social benefits adequate to their enormous social responsibility.
It’s clear there have been plenty of discussions over the amount and timing of this large-scale financing. The goal of creating modern armed forces and of comprehensively strengthening our defensive potential cannot be put off.
In fact, our defense centers and enterprises have missed several modernization cycles in the last 30 years. Yet we have made great strides in reforming the army. High-readiness forces manned with contract soldiers have been formed in all strategic areas. Self-sufficient units have been created. A unit of this type carried out the peace enforcement operation in Georgia in 2008 and defended the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Our navy has resumed its presence in strategic areas of the world’s oceans, including the Mediterranean.
So what does the future have in store for us? The probability of a global war between nuclear powers is not high, because that would mean the end of civilization. Nobody will dare launch a large-scale aggression against us.
High-precision, long-range conventional weapons will become increasingly common. An important, if not decisive, role in determining the nature of armed conflict will be played by the military capability of a country to counter space or information-related threats, especially in cyberspace.
We must also take resolute steps to strengthen our aerospace defenses. We are being pushed into action by the U.S. and NATO missile defense policies. A global balance of forces can be guaranteed either by building our own missile defense shield — an expensive and to date largely ineffective undertaking — or by developing the ability to overcome any missile defense system and protect Russia’s retaliation potential, which is far more effective. Russia’s military and technical response to the U.S. global missile defense system and its European section will be effective and asymmetrical.
Similarly, the activities that the world’s leading military powers have initiated around the Arctic are forcing Russia to secure our interests in that region.
Some people argue that rebuilding our military-industrial complex will saddle the economy with a heavy burden, the same burden that bankrupted the Soviet Union. I am sure this is profoundly delusionary.
The USSR collapsed due to the suppression of natural market forces in the economy and long-running disregard for the interests of the people. We cannot repeat the errors of the past.
The huge resources invested in modernizing our military-industrial complex and re-equipping the army must serve as fuel to feed the engines of modernization in our economy, creating real growth and a situation where government expenditure funds new jobs, supports market demand, and facilitates scientific research.
We will be resolute in eliminating corruption from the defense industry and the armed forces, ensuring that punishment for those who fall foul of the law is inevitable. Corruption in the national security sector is essentially treason.
We must rely on the very latest developments in the art of war. Falling behind means becoming vulnerable. It means putting our country and the lives of our soldiers and officers at risk.
The objective is to strengthen, not weaken, our national economy and create an army and military industry that will secure Russia’s sovereignty, the respect of our partners, and lasting peace.
Author: VLADIMIR PUTIN is prime minister of Russia and served as president from 2000 to 2008.
FEBRUARY 21, 2012
A longer version of this article appeared in the Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.