Saturday, May 10, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Russia Lacks the Capacity to Oppose NATO, Retired Colonel Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 10 – Russia has a military sufficient for some tasks, the head of the veterans organization in Naberezhny Chelny says, but it “cannot respond to the pressure which the NATO countries led by the US are putting on us,” an assessment that runs very much counter to the bombastic statements coming out of Moscow.

            Rafik Imaykin, the president of the Council of Veterans of that Middle Volga city, told a meeting of his groups that relative to population, the Russian Federation has a military not so much smaller than the USSR did, 1.1 million troops for 140 million people compared to 3.4 million for 300 million (

            But in terms of its armaments, there is no comparison: the Russian Federation is in a much worse position. The USSR had 62 atomic submarines; Russia has only a third of them. The Soviet fleet had 110 deep water ships; Russia has 12.  “Therefore, sometimes we simply cannot respond” to NATO pressure even if Russian forces can handle other tasks.

            Imaykin clearly regrets that the situation has reached this point. It “surprises” him, he says, “when our so-called former or present NATO enemies and the US president embrace our president, clap him on the back, and smile broadly. If the enemy is conducting himself that way, then there is only one possible conclusion.”

            Such things mean that “we are not doing” what we need to do, the retired colonel says. There is never friendship between states and there cannot be.  This is my personal opinion.” But he says there can be friendship “between peoples.” And he warns that “if you don’t feed your own army, you will feed someone else’s.”

            In other comments, Imaykin said that a major problem with the patriotic education of young people is that the Russian state is not drafting enough of them.  In the 1990s, 2,000 men were drafted in one district of Naberezhny Chelny. Now only 127 are being taken. But there is a broader problem.

            “It is terrible that now neo-fascist ideas have risen to the state level in certain countries of the former USSR. But most shameful of all is the fact that countries which were under oppresson of the fascist yoke have begun to propagandize this ideology.”

            “If you divide people according to nationality, then it will be necessary to shoot my grandson who has Russian, Ukrainian, Bashkir, Tatar, Buryat and Roma blood,” Imaykin says, asking “what should be done?”

            The retired colonel also complained about the media’s failure to talk about veterans more than twice a year and the Russian government’s approach to commemorating World War II.  Before 1965, he notes, Victory Day was not celebrated at the government level and people simply went to work as usual.

            “Now, according to the presidential program, all participants of the Great Fatherland War are guaranteed housing and additional medical help.  True,” he notes, “with each year, it is becoming easier and easier to provide assistance to veterans: Last year there were 4885 in Naberezhny Chelny; now, there are 4682,” with the youngest veteran from the front being 87.

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