- Low morale taking its toll on the armed forces
- The Russian armed forces are in a woeful state, with
the country's economic crisis frustrating attempts to turn them into a
more professional body.
- They are undermanned because of draft-dodging and the
shortage of funds means they are poorly maintained and equipped.
- The cash crisis has hit hardest the mechanised infantry
and artillery units.
- With no money to pay wages, young, well-qualified officers
have been quitting the military. According to a recent report, the armed
forces are expected to be short of about 19,000 officers this year.
- The army's standing in society has plummeted in the last
10 years. Many of its best officers have left for lucrative jobs in the
- In its early days, the army was ill-equipped, but fired
with enthusiasm and had high morale. Nowadays it is ill-equipped but lacking
in enthusiasm and morale is at rock bottom.
- Proud history
- The present Russian Army has its roots in a decree issued
by Lenin's Bolsheviks 80 years ago. Three and a half months after the so-called
Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolsheviks seriously feared that they were about
to lose their grip on the cradle of the Revolution, Petrograd.
- They called for volunteers to join them to save the city;
and this ragtag bunch of untrained soldiers was credited with being the
founding unit of the Red Army.
- The new Red Army commanders realised that there was a
wealth of untapped military talent from which they could benefit, and soon
ex-Tsarist officers were recruited to knock the new army into shape.
- It was largely thanks to the expertise of these "military
specialists," and the disorganised nature of the "White"
opposition, that the Red Army was to emerge victorious when the Civil War
finished in 1922.
- The Red Army's greatest moment of glory came with the
victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. It also set the tone for the army's
high standing in society for the next 40 years.
- In the nuclear age, the Soviet Communist Party maintained
that the Soviet Union was in imminent danger of attack, and the Soviet
Army, as it was renamed after the Second World War, was the country's reliable
- But the debacle of the Soviet Army's performance in Afghanistan
in the 1980's largely put paid to this myth of invincibility.
- The subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union saw the army,
along with many other areas of society, fall into a depressed and penniless
- There has been talk of military reform in Russia ever
since. Until concrete measures are taken, all that the modern Russian Army
will share with those who answered the call to arms in 1918 is its lack
of up-to-date equipment.