December 19, 2014 09:25

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Iron curtain

Putin submits United Territorial Defence bill to Duma

2.10.12 16:52    By Ekaterina Vinkurova, Sergei Smirnov, edited by Robert Gally

The new version of the bill «On defence» also contains the definition of a «territorial defence», which has been approved by Putin.

The new version of the bill «On defence» also contains the definition of a «territorial defence», which has been approved by Putin.   Photo: ITAR-TASS


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Vladimir Putin has brought his amendments to the federal law "On Defence" to the State Duma. Some of the main ideas include the development of 'a plan of defence' of the country and the introduction of a "territorial defence." According to experts the changes will strengthen presidential control over the armed forces and increased oversight by General Staff on regulations relating to defence.

Changes to the law "On Defence" were part of a larger group of submissions by President Putin to the State Duma. The Kremlin website has posted an explanation of the newly introduced bills.

"The federal law 'On defence' is an addition to Article 2 of the Constitution, which helps plan and implement activities as part of a defence plan for the Russian Federation, including a conglomerate of documents for interconnected military planning," the President's website writes.

The new law will amend Article 2, clarifying the powers of the president and the government in relation to national defence, including the division of powers in the approval of a defence plan.

"The bill also gives the President powers granted by the General Staff," the document says.

The new version of the bill "On defence" also contains the definition of a "territorial defence", which has been approved by the President.

The Head of the Public Council under the Ministry of Defence Igor Korotchenko, who is also the chief editor of the "National defence" magazine, believes that the proposed changes will allow the President to more efficiently solve issues of national security and the national defence plan will become not only of strategic but also of tactical value. It will detail the measures for military actions, concerning not only the Navy, Army and Air Force, but other law enforcement agencies as well, such as the FSB or Foreign Intelligence services.

"The [proposed] changes are quite logical: the General Staff will approve the President as commander in chief, and the General Staff will develop a plan for national defence. This plan, in turn, will enable the integration of all security agencies under one umbrella in order to meet the challenges of military security and sovereignty. A similar plan was in place during the USSR " Korotchenko says.

According to him, Putin took up making organisational changes to matters of national military security because he considers maintaining the military sovereignty of the country particularly relevant in light of recent world events.

"Right now, the world as it was after the Second World War is falling apart. We can now see cases of military aggression against sovereign states as, for example, in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The [Russian] government is taking the necessary steps to avoid such an event Russia", - says Korotchenko.

Director for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov notes that, in the paragraph on Approval by the General Staff, the President will have a strengthened role as commander in chief, and that the consequences of such centralisation are always dependent on the personality of the president. "If the president of the young and reasonable, then these steps seem reasonable," Pukhov said.

The Head of the Center for Military Forecasting Anatoly Tsyganok believes that the proposed changes are aimed at streamlining the whole system of state defence, which hasn't been done since the '90s.

"In the last 15 years, military doctrine has been developed by different people and is currently a set of separate documents. The government has not paid enough attention to 'territorial defence.' In fact, the mobilization readiness of the country has been lost, and now the authorities are taking steps to restore it," says Tsyganok. "It is necessary to understand that the mobilization readiness includes a permanent peacetime mobilization readiness of the system for maintenance and defence, in addition to the standard war time availability. A aational defence plan as a set of measures for both peace and war and this is the first serious step in many years to address this problem. "

Deputy editor of the "Daily Journal" and military analyst Alexander Goltz alerted "Gazeta.ru" to the fact that the proposed changes are primarily organizational in nature, and suggested that the General Staff, who wants to get the right to develop a new strategic document, is behind the changes.

"Even in Soviet times the relationship between the General Staff and the Ministry of Defence was extremely confusing. Exactly who exercises operational control of troops is still unclear, since under a number of provision it is the General Staff, but in a number of other provisions it is the Ministry of Defence. This new suggestion, giving power to the President via the General Staff, seems like a new move in this bureaucratic game, although it will be difficult to decide who will win in the end of this endless tug-of-war, " says Goltz.

Goltz finds the establishment of national defence plan strange because, in any country, including in Russia, there are already secret military plans in place to respond to military threats that are subject to a single defence plan: "this new change to the law is likely the result of some internal intrigues between military department. Presumably it will instruct the General Staff to develop a new secret document, and will increase the General Staff's role in the global structure of defence ... Maybe this is an attempt to create a single unified plan and bring everything to order because such documents have always existed."

Finally, in terms of territorial defence, Goltz believes that the explanatory note posted on the Kremlin website doesn't yet clearly show how things will change in this system.

"If the government goes so far as to set up the territorial defence in a way that reservists are called upon only where they live, it would be a huge step forward, but it's still too early to talk about such things," Goltz concludes.

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