Military of Russia

Military of Russia
Military manpower
Military age18 years of age
Availabilitymales age 15-49: 36 million (2003 est.)
Fit for military servicemales age 15-49: 24 million (2003 est.)
Reaching military age annually1.243 million (2003 est.)
Active troops960,600 (Ranked 5th)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure$18 billion (2005 est.)
Percent of GDP2.75 (2000 est.)



Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russians have discussed rebuilding a viable, cohesive fighting force out of the remaining parts of the former Soviet armed forces. A new Russian military doctrine, promulgated in November 1993, implicitly acknowledges the contraction of the old Soviet military into a regional military power without global imperial ambitions. In keeping with its emphasis on the threat of regional conflicts, the doctrine calls for a Russian military that is smaller, lighter, and more mobile, with a higher degree of professionalism and with greater rapid deployment capability. Such a transformation has proven difficult.

The challenge of this task has been magnified by difficult economic conditions in Russia, which have resulted in reduced defense spending. This has led to training cutbacks, wage reductions, and severe shortages of housing and other social amenities for military personnel, with a consequent lowering of morale, cohesion, and fighting effectiveness. The poor combat performance of the Russian armed forces in the Chechen conflict in part reflects these breakdowns. Brutal relationships, up to widespread torture, between fresh conscripts and those who have served longer (Russian military is based on compulsory 24-month service) has led to a large number of suicides and poor discipline and morale.


The available manpower for the various branches of the Russian armed forces was estimated at 38.9 million in 2001. According to Russian reports, in FY 2002, there will be about a 40% increase in arms procurement spending. However, even this increase is not enough to make up for the budget shortfalls of the previous decade. Russia's struggling arms producers will, therefore, intensify their efforts to seek sales to foreign governments.

About 70% of the former Soviet Union's defense industries are located in the Russian Federation. A large number of state-owned defense enterprises are on the brink of collapse as a result of cuts in weapons orders and insufficient funding to shift to production of civilian goods, while at the same time trying to meet payrolls. Many defense firms have been privatized; some have developed significant partnerships with United States firms.

Nuclear Weapons

More realistically, the Russian military doctrine, then and now, has called for the reliance on the country's strategic nuclear forces as the primary deterrent against attack by a major power (i.e. NATO forces or the People's Republic of China). In keeping with this dictum, the country's nuclear forces have received adequate financing throughout the lean 1990s while the rest of the military was cash-starved and decayed. The number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and warheads on active duty has declined over the years, in part in keeping with arms limitation agreements with the USA and in part due to insufficient spending on maintenance. Still, Russia maintains the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world (the USA has the largest. See List of countries with nuclear weapons). The ICBMs it has on duty would be more than sufficient to wreak global havoc, hence serving as a very credible deterrent. See also: Russia and weapons of mass destruction

Interestingly, because of the American awareness of the danger of Russian nuclear technology falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue officers who might want to use it to threaten or attack the West, the Pentagon has actually provided considerable financial assistance to the Russia nuclear forces over the years. This money went in part to finance decommissioning of warheads under bilateral agreements, but also to improve security and personnel training in Russian nuclear facilities. This may be one of the big reasons why no terrorist nuclear incidents have so far occurred in the world despite existence of many terrorist organizations and rogue states' intelligence services who would have been interested in acquiring nuclear technology from Russia.


The Russian military is divided into the following branches: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force. There are also three independent troops (something like Corps): Strategic missile troops, Space troops, Airborne troops. The Anti-air Defense troops are subordinated to the Air Force.

The Ground Forces are divided into six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad, North Caucasian, Privolzhsk-Ural, Siberian and Far Eastern.

The Navy consists of several fleets: Baltic, Pacific, North and Black Sea.

The Ministry of Defense is in charge of the military, and the President of Russia acts as the Supreme Commander. Since the Soviet time, the General Staff was acting as the main commanding and supervising body of the military forces, but curently its role is being reduced to a Ministry's department of strategic planning and the Minister is gaining executive authority over the troops. The other departments include Main personnel directorate and Auxillary troops, Railroad troops and Construction troops.

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