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Friday, September 23, 2011

Russian Military Reform and Defense Policy


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Russia has undertaken several largely piecemeal and halting efforts to revamp the armed forces it inherited from the Soviet Union. In 2007, near the end of then-President Vladimir Putin’s second term in office, he appointed Anatoliy Serdyukov—the former head of the Federal Tax Service—as defense minister as part of an effort to combat corruption in the military and carry out reforms. After the August 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict revealed large-scale Russian military operational failures, the leadership became more determined to boost military capabilities. U.S. government and congressional policymakers are following the progress and goals of these reforms as they consider issues related to U.S.-Russia relations and U.S. national security interests.

The reforms launched by Russian leadership called for reducing the total size of the armed forces from its size of 1.2 million in 2008 to under 1 million. Three major initiatives included accelerating planned cuts in the officer corps to reduce their numbers from 355,000 to a lateradjusted total of 220,000. The reforms also included revamping the training of noncommissioned officers to make them more effective and introducing military police, both aimed partly at boosting discipline in the barracks. The reforms aimed to reduce the four-tier command system of military districts, armies, divisions, and regiments to a two-tier system of strategic commands and fully manned brigades that could be quickly deployed for combat. A large-scale ten-year weapons modernization plan also was launched, and military budgets are being increased substantially. The weapons modernization plan prioritizes the procurement of new missiles and platforms to maintain strategic nuclear deterrence, but also includes new planes, helicopters, ships, missiles, and submarines for the Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, and other arms of service.

Russia’s national security strategy, military doctrine, and some aspects of the military reforms reflect assessments by some Russian policymakers that the United States and NATO remain concerns, if not threats, to Russia’s security. Other assessments, however, emphasize enhancing counter-terrorism capabilities and possibly hedges against the rise of China. Seeming to stress these latter concerns, in December 2008, Serdyukov asserted that the reforms were aimed at switching to a performance-capable, mobile, and maximally armed military ready to participate in at least three regional and local conflicts.

Compared to Russia’s previous attempts to revamp its armed forces, the current reform effort has gone further in altering the force structure and operations of the armed forces, according to most observers. However, the reforms face daunting delays, modifications, and setbacks. It remains highly uncertain whether Russia will be able to marshal the budgetary and demographic resources to field a substantially professional military with high readiness, as planned, or to modernize its ailing defense industries to obtain a new array of weaponry over the next ten years.

U.S. policymakers have maintained that Serdyukov’s defense reforms pose both risks and opportunities for the United States and the West. While warning that Russian military programs are driven largely by Moscow’s perception that the United States and NATO remain the greatest potential threats, U.S. policymakers also have raised the possibility that Russia’s military reforms might in the future make it feel less strategically vulnerable and that it might participate more in international peacekeeping operations. In general, U.S. policymakers and others have urged a policy of hedging against these possible risks through countervailing diplomacy and defense efforts while also following an engagement policy with Russia to cooperate on global issues of mutual interest and to encourage Russia to democratize, respect human rights, and embrace pro- Western foreign policies.



Date of Report: August 24, 2011
Number of Pages: 49
Order Number: R42006
Price: $29.95

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Uzbekistan gained independence at the end of 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The landlocked country is a potential Central Asian regional power by virtue of its population, the largest in the region, its substantial energy and other resources, and its location at the heart of regional trade and transport networks. The existing president, Islam Karimov, retained his post following the country’s independence, and was reelected in 2000 and 2007. He has pursued a policy of cautiously opening the country to economic and political reforms, and many observers have criticized Uzbekistan’s human rights record.

The United States pursued close ties with Uzbekistan following its independence. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, Uzbekistan offered over-flight and basing rights to U.S. and coalition forces. However, U.S. basing rights at Karshi-Khanabad were terminated in 2005 following U.S. criticism and other actions related to the Karimov government’s allegedly violent crackdown on unrest in the southern city of Andijon. Since then, the United States has attempted to improve relations, particularly in support of operations in Afghanistan. In 2009, Uzbekistan began to participate in the Northern Distribution Network of land, sea, and air transit routes from Europe through Eurasia for the supply of goods for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Cumulative U.S. assistance budgeted for Uzbekistan in FY1992-FY2009 was $934.0 million (all agencies and programs). Of this aid, $321 million (over one-third) was budgeted for combating weapons of mass destruction (including Comprehensive Threat Reduction aid) or for Foreign Military Financing. Food, health, and other social welfare and humanitarian aid accounted for $220 million (nearly one-fourth), and democratization aid accounted for $168 million (nearly one-fifth). Budgeted assistance was $12.0 million in FY2010 and an estimated $11.3 million in FY2011, and the Administration has requested $11.8 million for FY2012 (numbers include funds from the Assistance for Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia Account and other “Function 150” foreign aid, and exclude Defense and Energy Department funds). The main priorities of U.S. assistance requested for FY2012 are planned to be health, education, agriculture, and trade, including efforts to encourage trade to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

These areas of assistance are permitted under provisions that otherwise limit U.S. aid to Uzbekistan. Since FY2003 (P.L. 108-7), Congress has prohibited foreign assistance to the government of Uzbekistan unless the Secretary of State determines and reports that Uzbekistan is making substantial progress in meeting commitments to respect human rights, establish a multiparty system, and ensure free and fair elections, freedom of expression, and the independence of the media. In FY2008, Congress added a provision blocking Uzbek government officials from entering the United States if they are deemed to have been responsible for events in Andijon or to have violated other human rights.



Date of Report: August 3
1, 2011
Number of Pages:
18
Order Number: R
S21238
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Azerbaijan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Azerbaijan is an important power in the South Caucasus by reason of its geographic location and ample energy resources, but it faces challenges to its stability, including the unresolved separatist conflict involving Nagorno Karabakh (NK). Azerbaijan enjoyed a brief period of independence in 1918-1920, after the collapse of the Tsarist Russian Empire. However, it was re-conquered by Red Army forces and thereafter incorporated into the Soviet Union. It re-gained independence when the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991. Upon independence, Azerbaijan continued to be ruled for awhile by its Soviet-era leader, but in May 1992 he was overthrown and Popular Front head Abulfaz Elchibey was soon elected president. Military setbacks in suppressing separatism in the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh (NK) region contributed to Elchibey’s rise to power, and in turn to his downfall. In June 1993, forces in Ganja challenged Elchibey’s power, spurring Elchibey to invite Heydar Aliyev—the leader of Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan region and a former communist party head of Azerbaijan—to Baku to mediate the crisis. The Ganja forces marched on Baku, causing Elchibey to flee the city. Heydar Aliyev was elected chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, and was granted temporary presidential powers. A national referendum held in August 1993 formally stripped Elchibey of the presidency and Heydar Aliyev was elected president of Azerbaijan in October 1993. In July 1994, a ceasefire agreement was signed in the NK conflict. Heydar Aliyev served until October 2003, when under worsening health he stepped down. His son Ilkham Aliyev was elected president a few days later.

According to the Obama Administration, U.S. assistance for Azerbaijan aims to develop democratic institutions and civil society, support the growth of the non-oil sectors of the economy, strengthen the interoperability of the armed forces with NATO, increase maritime border security, and bolster the country’s ability to combat terrorism, corruption, narcotics trafficking, and other transnational crime. Cumulative U.S. aid budgeted for Azerbaijan from FY1992 through FY2009 was $909 million (“all spigot” foreign assistance). Almost one-half of the aid was humanitarian, and another one-fifth supported democratic reforms. Budgeted aid to Azerbaijan was $28.1 million in FY2010 and an estimated $26.9 million in FY2011, and the Administration requested $21.4 million for FY2012 (the numbers for FY2010, FY2011, and FY2012 include funds in the Assistance to Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia Account and other “Function 150” foreign aid, and exclude Defense and Energy Department funds).

After the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Azerbaijan granted overflight rights and approved numerous landings and refueling operations at Baku’s civilian airport in support of U.S. and coalition military operations in Afghanistan. More recently, the country is a major land, air, and sea conduit of the Northern Distribution Network for supplies in support of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan has contributed troops for the ISAF since 2003. The country increased its contingent from 45 to 90 personnel in 2009, including medical and civil affairs specialists. From 2003-2008, about 150 Azerbaijani troops participated in the coalition stabilization force for Iraq.



Date of Report: August 30, 2011
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: 97-522
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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