Staunton, May 14 – Many Russian analysts are discussing the impact on the lives of ordinary Russians if the government as expected raises the retirement age or otherwise cuts benefits, but one group is especially worried, Nezavisimaya gazeta says, the Russian military which fears that such moves would undermine the country’s military capacity.
On the one hand, such cutbacks would contribute to a sullen attitude among currently serving officers and retirees. And on the other, they would make it far more difficult to recruit new officers if potential military leaders could see that they would be unlikely to be taken care of at the level they hope for.
Vladimir Mukhin, an observer for the Moscow newspaper who writes frequently on military issues, says that “in the army milieu there are concerns about the possibility of a reduction in the level of social defense of serving officers and retirees” (ng.ru/politics/2018-05-11/1_7222_demiltaryrisation.html).
According to the journalist, these concerns reflect three things. First, new appointments to the government including Anton Siluanov as first deputy prime minister, suggest that there will be opposition to more spending on the military and especially on military salaries and pensions.
Second, unlike six years ago, Putin’s new “May decrees” made no mention of improving conditions for the military, leading many officers to recall that the 2012 decrees about that were not carried out in full. And third, the Kremlin leader has made it clear that he wants more modern weapons and a reduction in military spending.
The only way that is possible, Russian officers and their supporters in expert community say, is for cutbacks to continue in adjusting military pay to inflation, reducing medical facilities in the military, and changing formulas on retirement pay, all of which they suggest they see signs of already.
Retired colonel Vladimir Popov, who writes frequently on military issues, says that “if one remembers that finance minister Anton Siluanov personally proposed cutting spending on military medicine,” a move that was successfully blocked by defense minister Sergey Shoygu. But now, given Siluanov’s new position, the defense minister may not be able to block him.
And Aleksandr Kanyshin, head of the Association of Organizations of Reserve Officers of the Russian Armed Forces, says that his members are worried that their pensions may lose ground to inflation or worse. They have already failed to increase the two percent above inflation Putin promised in May 2012.