Russian Military Reform
A Failed Exercise in Defence Decision Making
Routledge – 2008 – 248 pages
Routledge – 2008 – 248 pages
This book examines reform of the Russian military since the end of the Cold War. It explores the legacy of the Soviet era, explaining why - at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union - radical reform was long overdue in the wake of changing military technology, new economic and political realities, and the emergence of new threats and challenges. It discusses the problems encountered by Gorbachev in his attempts to promote military reform in the late 1980s, and goes on to analyse in detail the mixed fortunes of the policies of his successors, Yeltsin and Putin. It describes how the onset of war in Chechnya in 1994 provided clear evidence of the weaknesses of the Russian military in modern conflicts, and shows that although the Chechnya debacle did provide some impetus for reforms in the armed forces in 1997-98, the momentum was not continued under the Putin government. It argues that Putin’s policies of bolstering central control over all aspects of decision making has left untouched many key problems facing the Russian military, including infighting between different force structures, lack of transparency and independent scrutiny over defence spending, and absence of consensus on the main threats to Russia and optimum force posture. Moreover, it argues that in his attempts to concentrate all means of control to a corrupt and inefficient Kremlin bureaucracy, Putin has deprived himself of all alternative channels of independent scrutiny, control and oversight, thus exacerbating the problems that continue to plague the Russian military.
"The book contains interesting insights into the modern Russian military. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels." -- CHOICE, Sept 2009 Vol. 47 No. 01
'This is an extremely interesting, welcome, and thought provoking book that
everyone interested in defense politics in Russian should read. It presents a
conceptual framework against which the author discusses the evolution of
civil-military relations in Russia since the collapse of the USSR. In particular,
the author focuses on the process of decision-making and its relationship to
military reform]…[For a book covering the period from Yeltsin to Putin, this is one of the
best documented studies this reviewer has seen. If there is a source Pallin
has not consulted (including Russian original documents), I am not aware of
it—and that includes my own work. Anyone contemplating writing on this
topic would be well advised to consult carefully her bibliography and footnotes.
All in all, this is an outstanding book that should be on the shelf of
every college or university library.' - Dale Herspring, Kansas State University,Journal of Slavic Military Studies, vol. 22, pp. 318-19, 2009
1. The Kremlin and Military Reform 2. The Debate on Russian Military Reform 3. Defence Decision Making 4. Russian Military Reform: Definitions and Goals 5. The Yeltsin Era: Virtual Reform 6. Enter Putin: The Obsession with the Power Vertical Conclusion: Presidential Will, Know-How and Perseverance
Carolina Vendil Pallin is Deputy Research Director and head of the Russia Project at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) and has authored a number of publications on Russian domestic, security and military policy.