Staunton, June 30 -- After ignoring
the issues of military pay and benefits for both serving and retiring personnel
for five years, during the course of which pay and pensions stagnated and
medical services were cut, Vladimir Putin last week said he wanted to boost pay
and provide more benefits to uniformed personnel and retirees.
But budgetary stringencies seem
certain to get in the way, making it difficult to raise pay or pensions
significantly and especially to provide the housing and medical care that
soldiers and sailors are promised both while in uniform and after they retire,
according to Vladimir Mukhin (ng.ru/kartblansh/2017-06-30/3_7019_kartblansh.html).
the capacity of the military and special services has been a central goal for
Putin, but he has focused more on equipment than on personnel. Last week,
however, he indicated that improving the siloviki will require “the further
improvement of the material and social stimuli” they receive.
will continue to be concerned about he strengthening of social guarantees for
military personnel, officers of the law-enforcement organs and special
services. We will further guarantee worthy pay, offer housing, and raise the quality
of medical services for military personnel and members of their families,” the
Kremlin leader said.
since last making such declarations five years ago, Putin has done little in
this sector. Military pay hasn’t been indexed to inflation even once, housing
remains in critically short supply for officers, and having cut the military
medical system to the bone, the government now wants to reduce spending on that
function as well, the Nezavisimaya gazeta
has begun to focus on these issues not only because he is about to take part in
another political campaign but also because he wants to shore up support for
himself among the siloviki, Mukhin continues, convinced as he is that the
United States is seeking to achieve “regime change” in the Russian Federation.
the question arises: Can the Russian budget support such things given the
continuing economic crisis? Neither the
2017 nor the 2018-2019 budgets call for raising pay of soldiers and officers of
law enforcement agencies and special services. In fact, the budget calls for
cutting back spending on defense overall.
boost pay would require shifting funds from somewhere else, and there are too
few places where that could happen, the journalist suggests. At the same time, the uniformed services have
many social needs which aren’t now being met and which could be addressed only
if more money were directed at them.
deputies have already expressed concerns that the absence of pay increases and
problems with benefits has led many in the uniformed services to leave their
positions early, something that adds to training costs and makes it more
difficult to maintain unit cohesion and readiness.
major problem is medical care. As a result of cutbacks in recent years, there
is not a single military medical facility in 47 of the country’s federal
subjects “where live more than 350,000 military pensioners.” And the number of
hospitals, polyclinics, and other treatment centers for serving military
personnel has been cut dramatically.
number of military clinics has been reduced from 173 to 41 and the number of
military medical personnel has been cut from 13,000 to 2500 in recent years.
Obviously something needs to be done, but the finance ministry maintains that
spending on military medical needs is still too high.
Putin has promised ‘to raise the quality of medical services for military personnel
and members of their families,’ Mukhin says. But how can he deal with military
pensioners in this regard “who also have the right to be treated in military
medical facilities?” The answer to that