A decade of post-Soviet economic meltdown has badly crippled Russia’s military capability, grounding jets and leaving navy ships rusting in harbors for lack of funds to conduct training. Massive corruption and vicious bullying of young conscripts by older soldiers have eroded morale and encouraged widespread draft-dodging.
The weakness of the once-proud military was shown in two separatist wars in Chechnya when Russian troops suffered heavy losses at the hands of lightly armed rebels.
The Russian military won a quick victory in a war with Georgia’s small military in August 2008, but the five-day conflict also revealed that the military had trouble quickly deploying its forces to the area. The shortage of precision weapons and modern communications were also apparent.
The government has unveiled an ambitious arms modernization program that envisages spending more than 20 trillion rubles (more than US$615 billion) on new weapons through 2020.
However, some military analysts said that the rearmament effort was badly planned and might not be sufficient to reverse the military’s decline.