Monday, July 13, 2015

Moscow’s War in Ukraine is Putting an End to Military Reform in Russia, Golts Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 13 – The increasing resistance among Russian soldiers – and in particular professionals – to being sent to fight in Ukraine not only highlights the problems Russian commanders are facing in finding enough troops to replace or supplement those already there, Moscow military analyst Aleksandr Golts says.

            It also means, he writes in “Yezhednevny zhurnal” today, that the military reforms launched earlier are at an end and that “commanders have begun to act just as they did decades ago” when they would use any means including abuse, threats, and false promises to get soldiers to follow orders however illegal (

            To the extent that the story about the resistance of soldiers in one unit are true, Golts says, “this is the end of progressive military reforms. The thing is that instead of the promised humanization of military service, soldiers have again been reduced to the status of slaves” and that this is happening not just to draftees but to older military professionals.

            And the situation has become so bad, he continues, that such soldiers “have not found any other way out besides flight. Because they do not believe that in Russia it is possible to achieve justice. Who is going to consider that after all this, they will die for a country which has do mistreated them?”

            “Any army is strong to the extent its soldiers have faith in their commanders,” Golts says. In the Russian army today, however, “soldiers know that their commanders are lying to them about unprecedentedly high rewards for participation in the war in the Donbas. This lie began a year ago” when Moscow suggested that only volunteers on their own were going to Ukraine.

            According to Golts, “such bald-faced lying takes away from the commander any sense of responsibility for the life of his subordinates, but it is precisely on the basis of this responsibility that military discipline and readiness to fulfill orders is built.”

            The worst of all this, the Moscow analyst continues, is that such problems are unlikely to be found in “only one brigade.”  More likely, “something similar is occurring throughout the Armed Forces. And that means that the flow of those who want to become professional soldiers is contracting.”

            “Sooner or later,” Golts concludes, that will create a situation in which “the president will decide to return to the conception of a mass mobilization army,” one in which the professional soldiers will be “just as much slave[s] as the draftee[s].”  Some generals may be pleased about this, but the army they will be in charge of will be much less effective as a result.

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