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Grigory Pasko: Watching the War from Moscow

warriors081408.jpgFor some – war, for some – mother is dear (Russian saying) Grigory Pasko, journalist This sure was a strange war. It was clear right from the start that nobody – besides several politicians – needed it. Several politicians – that would be Saakashvili, Putin, and Medvedev. By the way, the last of these no doubt also did not take part in all the decisions: senior comrade Putin simply ordered him to say this, to behave himself like that and no other way. Saakashvili was pursuing a goal: to attract the attention of the world public to a region of republics not recognized by anyone – South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Formally, they are counted in the composition of Georgia, in practice – they are protectorates of Russia. In South Ossetia even the leadership of the republic – is all Russian. The war ended quickly, like it had begun. A mass of political scientists is already extracting political lessons from it. But I want to bring attention to certain aspects, which, as a rule, remain in the shadows. (Photo: Warriors of the Russian Army – source)

Of course, this – is the state of the Russian army. It is known that in the 4 days of war Russia lost four fighter airplanes shot down. This is not simply many, it is catastrophically many. Conclusions beg themselves: either Georgia’s got high-precision anti-aircraft miracle-devices, or Russian pilots don’t know how to wage war. The second conclusion makes more sense to me, and it, I think, is closer to the truth.About the real state of the Russian army you will not read the truth anywhere. Which is why it has to be fished out from the flow of information.Here are recent words of the vice-premier of the Russian government, Alexey Kudrin: “Some kind of additional support is not required by the Armed Forces, they are working in consideration of good supplies and reserves”. And also he said that since last year “The Armed Forces are working according to the full normative of combat training, flight hours, vessel cruises and have a sufficient allotment of ammunition”.If even with such preparation the Georgians managed to knock down four planes, that means the combat training program needs to be changed. Or those who are training these pilots.And here is the opinion of the top commander of the Military-Air Forces of Russia, voiced by him on the pages of the main military paper «Krasnaya zvezda» [Red Star]: “As of 1 January of the year 2008 in the MAF on account were included around 30 thousand families of military service personnel, recognized as in need of provision with housing space”.To fly to war while thinking about how a wife and child remaining on land are not provided with housing – this too does not add mastery to aviators.Russia sells its arms to the whole world for billions of dollars. It can not find the money for the construction of apartments for its aviators.Nor can it procure a sufficient quantity of bulletproof vests for its soldiers. Here is the testimony of a correspondent from a pro-state newspaper – «Rossiyskaya gazeta». (Central issue № 4725 of 11 August 2008): “While I looked at the fallen APC, my column advanced and I was picked up by a “KamAZ” with munitions. Climbing into the cab, I attempted to strike up a conversation with the senior officer of the machine: ‘So, have you got a GPS, a navigator?’ The jocular officer continued my joke and replied in the style of a famous television commercial: ‘Nope, sonny, that’s fantasy’. And added: ‘You could’ve asked about bulletproof vests, too’.“In two days I managed to talk with many soldiers and officers and I can say: they’re like steel – even without bulletproof vests…”The top leadership of Russia usually has just this attitude towards its army: they’re made of steel; they can do anything, even without provision.While we’re on the subject, I’m firmly convinced that the Russian ministry for emergency situations is provided with everything a lot better than the army and the fleet.They promised to increase salaries for the soldiers and officers warring in Georgia and Ossetia. I think they will increase them. But only for the time they are actually warring. But the main sums will go for something else – for the reconstruction of the targets destroyed by the military itself. By tradition, half of these sums is going to be pilfered by bureaucrats. Putin named a number: 500 million rubles will be forthcoming from Russia to North Ossetia for the organization accommodations for refugees. Besides this, on the order of 10 billion rubles will be allocated for the reconstruction of villages of South Ossetia and Tskhinvali, which because of the bombings has practically turned into ruins. Later the question of material assistance is going to be decided, proceeding from “necessity and real needs».I would add here: proceeding from the real needs of Russian bureaucrats.