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Experts assess first year of work of Sergei Shoigu as Defense Minister

October 31, 2013, 12:41 UTC+3
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Political analysts of the Centre for Political Information, military experts and journalists have summarised the first-year results of the activities of Sergei Shoigu on the post of Russia’s defence minister, the Vechernyaya Moskva newspaper reports.

The image of the Russian Army has always been personalised, experts said. Once it was Marshall Zhukov’s army - a symbol of the USSR victory in WW2. In recent years, it has been an army of Minister Serdyukov, the legacy of which is currently being examined by the Investigative Committee (SK) of Russia. The new minister, Shoigu, has received a burdensome legacy. He now has to deal with the army de-commercialisation issue. However, experts say, Shoigu has come to the army with “a superb background” and rich work experience. First of all, he has been able to come to terms with the senior generals. The mutual antipathy between the General Staff and Defence Ministry, which has already turned into a bad tradition, is gradually disappearing.

Now Shoigu is facing the so-called Obama effect when the first rosy impressions from the new appointment may disappear under the weight of the pressing problems. Critics of Shoigu also believe that the policy of humanisation of the army (coffee rooms in the barracks, showers and self-service buffet) may undermine the morale of the soldiers. The minister is also criticised for the lack of a coherent military strategy. However, asked by the Vechernyaya Moskva daily whether the country has had such a strategy over the past twenty years, the experts said no.

Military expert Viktor Litovkin believes that “the current defence minister has brilliant organisational skills, he is a man to whom the army at once took a liking, although the soldiers’ attitude to him from the very start was not bad, in general. Suffice to say that Shoigu is returning the army traditions and to the famous elite army units - the Kantemirovskaya brigade and Tamanskaya division, their history and names.”

Political analyst Alexei Mukhin said that “on the whole, it was a rehab year for the Russian Armed Forces and a year of socialisation of our army. As for our military-industrial complex, Shoigu has managed to defend the practice of so-called “cross-contracts” when the entire process of production of new weapons from the beginning to their disposal rests on the shoulders of one defence enterprise. This, of course, creates difficulties for the defence industry sector, but at the same time minimises the risk of default of defence contracts.”

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