Staunton, January 18 – The Kremlin-controlled media and often echoing it Western outlets paint a picture of Russia as a burgeoning military power, with its forces totally prepared to carry out any order the Putin regime gives them. But three stories this week suggest not only that this picture is incomplete but that it may be dangerously false.
The first of these is perhaps the most serious. As all political philosophers from Machiavelli on have pointed out, one of the first tasks of a ruler is to ensure that his forces are well-paid not only so that they will not be tempted to revolt against him but also so they will be ready to do his bidding in the future.
Over the past several years, there has been a drumbeat of stories about military bases where the power was shut off because Moscow hadn’t paid the bill and about soldiers not getting adequate food or even being paid on time because the center hadn’t managed to perform that most basic of functions.
But now Moscow, at a time of budget stringency, has taken a step that could lead to real problems. It is demanding that officers and soldiers who served in “hot spots” like Abkhazia in the 1990s return the supplemental combat pay they received for their service (mk.ru/social/2017/01/16/rossiyskikh-voennykh-obyazali-vernut-milliony-za-sluzhbu-v-goryachey-tochke.html