Please take down general Andranik's monument but know that we will intervene to protect Armenia - June, 2011

Armenians in Sochi wanted to erect a monument honoring general Andranik. Having become aware of the plan, Turks sent official complaints to Russian officials and made threats. Russian authorities decided it was better not to give Sochi Armenians the permission to go ahead with the monument. Armenians did not abide by the official decision and went ahead with their plans. Needless to say, the monument was ordered dismantled. Needless to say, many Armenians were angered. In my opinion, attempting to place a monument honoring general Andranik in a public forum in Sochi without first getting permission from Russian authorities was not a wise thing to do and the angry outcry over the matter has only been counterproductive because it reveals the political immaturity of those Armenians involved.

After meetings with Armenian community representatives, however, it was announced that Russian officials had agreed to allow the monument in question to be placed in Adler, a town not far from Sochi. Nevertheless, Armenians are again getting carried away with emotional and unessential concerns. I don’t blame Russian officials one bit in this matter. As a matter of fact, I praise the way in which they handled it. Please allow me to explain.

We Armenians have a nasty habit of feeling right at home in foreign lands. No, I don't accept William Saroyan's defeatist/counterproductive ideology that when Armenians get together anywhere in the world they will create a new Armenia. We only have one Armenia. Why should we Armenians expect Russian officials to sabotage their dealings with Turk over a statue that ultimately belongs in Armenia? It is no secret that bilateral trade between Moscow and Ankara runs somewhere around forty billion dollars annually. Moscow has also been trying to sweet talk Ankara away from NATO. Despite their warm relationship, however, Turks also realize that Armenia and Artsakh are untouchable primarily due to Moscow’s support of Armenians. It's clear that despite their good relations with Turks, Moscow fears the spread of Islam and Turkism in the Caucasus (perhaps more so than us Armenians).

As a result, despite the billions of dollars in bilateral trade and all the diplomatic niceties that go along with it, Moscow realizes that it needs Armenia in the Caucasus as a strategic limiting factor against Turks and Muslims - even in the best of political and/or financial circumstances.

What I'm trying to say here is that Moscow is simply attempting to manage the situation at hand. Moscow is attempting to keep its lucrative relationship with Ankara intact while making sure Armenia/Artsakh remains intact as well. In other words, while business is good with Turks, geopolitically speaking, Armenia is Moscow’s sledgehammer hanging over Turkish heads in the region. Moscow needs Armenia's alliance and it needs the cash its relationship with Ankara brings. However, Armenians shouldn't expect Russians officials to rub salt on Turkish wounds for no good political reason?

Being that Armenia's existence as a pro-Russian bastion in the Caucasus is keeping Turks on the western side of the Arax River, the Armenian republic carries a lot of weight within the halls for the Kremlin; and it will do so for the foreseeable future. Realizing this, Armenian politicians/activists need to learn how to properly exploit this situation for Armenia's maximum benefit and not get carried away with sentimental/emotional matters. Nonetheless, Moscow's policy towards Turkey remains very nuanced. While Russian officials recognize the long-term threat Turkey poses to the Russian state, they will not seek to inflame Turkish passions unnecessarily – especially over unimportant matters!

As far as the symbolism of monuments are concerned, I personally believe that the monuments in Gyumri and Oshakan (commemorating Czarist Russia's defense of Armenia against Turks and Persians) are far more politically significant/symbolic than the little bust of general Andranik in Sochi. If the monument to our famous general in Sochi says "screw you" to Turks, Azeris and Tatars living in the region, the two major monuments I referred to unmistakably tell Turks, Azeris, Persians and by extension the West to keep away from Armenia. Let's get serious. From operating Armenia's nuclear power plant to supplying Armenia with affordable modern arms for its defense, the Russian Federation has been doing a lot, in real/tangible terms, for our fledgling republic.
Let's please not lose sight of this fact. In fact, Moscow is ultimately the main reason why Armenia has been able to stay afloat in the Caucasus - not the big talking but under-performing Armenian diaspora.

As long as Moscow has the strategic farsightedness to militarily, politically and economically protect Armenia, I don't care if they have reservations about Armenians put up a monument in their country. 

Amidst all the hysteria and Russophobia this matter has created, there is another aspect that is being lost. I'm sure that Armenians realize that the monument in question in very provocative to Turks. General Andranik is well known amongst nationalist Turks. As a matter of fact, Turks consider general Andranik a war criminal, a terrorist and a bandit. But that's not the problem for Russian officials. Setting a bad precedent is the problem for them. Although Armenians feel very self-assured/chauvinistic in Russia, we all know that there are many millions of Turanians/Muslims living in the Russian Federation. What if one day these anti-Armenian elements in Russia decided to erect a monument to Talaat Pasha or Abdul Hamid or Ataturk as a response? Are Russian citizens of Turkic ancestry any less "Russian" than the Armenian ones there?

What then? Why would Russian officials want go down this road?

Considering the large numbers of anti-Armenian elements living in the Russian Federation, the mere fact that no such Turkic statue or monument exists in Russia is a victory for us Armenians. Moreover, the fact that Russian officials have allowed general Andranik's monument to be displayed in a town not far from Sochi is also very a very encouraging sign and it actually shows the depth of the relationship Armenians have with Russians today.

Yet another point that we Armenians need to take into consideration is this: Even Jews, a tribe that practically controls every sector of American society, would not dare erect a monument to one their Zionist war heroes in the United States - although unlike in Russia where large populations of anti-Armenian/pro-Turkish national groups exists, Jews in America have no natural opposition. Unlike us emotionally handicapped and politically illiterate Armenians, politically seasoned Jews realize that real power and real political influence is attained not by erecting monuments here and there and felling good about it but by making deals behind closed doors!

Don't misunderstand me. I would love to have monuments/statues of our famous generals proudly displayed throughout Russia. After all, they were all Russian trained! But I realize that serious political calculations will come in play from time to time. We Armenians simply need to be cognizant of it and try to work with it and around it.

The geopolitical climate for the foreseeable future dictates that Moscow and Ankara will remain long-term competitors/enemies. Thus, Armenians should not have any fears of Russia abandoning Armenia for the sake of better financial relations with Turkey and/or Azerbaijan. As noted previously, Armenia is Moscow's regional security guarantee that Turks/Iranians/Muslims will remain contained. Weakening Armenia means weakening Russia. Russian officials realize this better than us Armenians. Therefore, instead of worrying about silly/emotional matters, Armenians should concentrate on making a persistent pan-national effort within the confines of the Kremlin in the name of Armenia.

Nevertheless, general Andranik's statue ultimately belongs in Armenia - not in Russia, not anywhere else.

After all is said and done, the Russian Federation is Armenia’s only strategic ally and silly squabbles such as this will not change that geopolitical reality on the ground. Sentimental and politically foolish Armenians cannot allow sentimental and foolish matters such as this turn into political problems. Several months ago, we saw similar irrational outbursts by Armenians when Russian president Dmitry Medvedev presented Turkey's Erdogan with, in my opinion, an insignificant ancient picture. See the following blog entry for more detail:
Erdogan’s visit to Moscow casts no shadow on Armenia-Russia partnership:
Geopolitically speaking, these types of matters are not issues worthy of discussion. I'm addressing it here simply because I realize that unbridled emotions always gets the better of us Armenians. If we Armenians were seriously offended by these silly matters, matters that have absolutely no bearing on the geopolitical reality on the ground, similar to what Jews do in places like Washington, Armenians need to learn how to effectively and quietly take these fights behind closed doors in the Kremlin.
Note: Spy agencies closely study the characteristics of populations/nations of interest. Based on their understanding of their research, they conceive and plan their psychological warfare operations and their intelligence operations. The very sophisticated special services of the Western alliance (as well as that of Ankara's) have been observing and studying Armenians for a long time. They know how the Armenian mind functions. They know Armenian strengths and weaknesses. However, they don't really need to waste their time studying us. It is quite obvious to all that generally speaking Armenians tend to be overly emotional, very sentimental and politically naive. We also know that emotional people cannot be rational people and sentimental people cannot be forward thinking people and naive people are an easily manipulated people. This basic understanding of Armenians is what drives Western news reports and official statements regarding Armenia today. They play on Armenian fears. They attack Armenian self-esteem and they target Armenian sensibilities. Regrettably, many Armenians fall victim to these types of psychological manipulations.
Finally, after getting very excited about the order to dismantle general Andranik's monument in Sochi last week, our Russophobic "nationalists" got some really bad news today. Breaking with expected protocol, a high level Russian general clearly insinuated that Armenia's fight in the Caucasus is Russia's fight. See posted articles below about general Tretyak for more information. For a long time, "analysts" and "activists" in Armenia were trying very hard to invent scare-tactics by inventing excuses as to why Russia would not help Armenia in the event of a war; going as far as bringing up Moscow's decision not to get involved in the upheaval in Kyrgyzstan last year as an example. I guess our brilliant analysts and political activists (many of whom are trained in the West and/or maintain ties with the West) for some reason or another couldn't figure out that the real reason why Moscow chose not intervene in Kyrgyzstan was simply because it had organized the crisis in question and that the situation at hand was fully under Moscow's control.

Within a day or two after the Russian general's powerful public announcement, sources in Yerevan revealed that Armenia operates one of the deadliest weapons systems on earth (see article about the Smerch MLRS at the bottom of this page). This militarily significant news comes merely a couple of months after Yerevan disclosed that Armenian forces had in their possession one of the most effective anti-aircraft missile systems on earth, the S-300.

In my opinion, this most recent statement by a top level Russian military representative and the on-going provision of modern weaponry to Armenia are a clear message - to all who are listening of course - that Russia and Armenia are bound together by a serious alliance. Despite what Armenia's numerous agents of the West want us to believe, the Russian Federation is in it with Armenia for the long-term. In my opinion, this message is not only directed towards Turks/Azeris and the Western alliance - it is also directed towards a significant portion of the Armenian population today who for some strange reason harbor hate towards Moscow/Russians. 
Russian state owned new agency Russia Today recently produced a documentary about Armenia (see video link below). Yes, in it, the Armenian Genocide is acknowledged; Armenia's prehistoric history is acknowledged; the Armenianness of Nagorno Karabakh is acknowledged... the earthquake... the blockade... the first Christian nation... the monasteries... Mount Ararat... Armenian brandy... Khachkars... it's all there. Had this wonderfully positive documentary been produced by the US government (such a thing would never happen), I have no doubt that diasporan Armenians would have had one big collective orgasm and the film would have gotten massive viewership worldwide; well, at least as much as the poisonous stuff they enjoy spreading around about Armenia. Since the documentary in question is produced by them pesky Russians who are constantly trying to depopulate Armenia and sell it to the Turks, the vast majority of you have yet to see it.
Incidentally, isn't it interesting that our "nationalists" are curiously quiet about these types of developments? Why aren't our "nationalists" (some of whom actually claim Russians are wost than Turks) enthusiastically doing mass-mailings with this type of materials? Is it because this kind of news makes them look like what they actually are - pathetic fools? Or are they so blinded with their Russophobia and ignorance of the political world that they are no longer able to see the reality around them?

God forbid a Russian police officer gives an Armenian a traffic violation... We'll immediately hear how racist Russians are in every single Armenian news media outlet (English language ones of course). God forbid a Russian gives a present to a Turk... We'll immediately get bombarded by commentaries about how Armenians need to be weary of Russians, how Russians are selling Armenia to Turks... God forbid a Russian business opens in Yerevan... We'll immediately hear how Russians are exploiting Armenia, how they are "Russifying" Armenia... God forbid Moscow makes traveling to or working in Russia easier... We'll immediately hear about how Russia is depopulating Armenia... Of course I'm exaggerating here. But the fact is, a significant number of Armenians today look at Russia (a nation that clearly sustains/protects Armenia) and they see an enemy... and they look at the West (an evil alliance that poses a severe danger to Armenia) and they see a friend...

The ubiquitousness, the persistence and the intensity of the West's anti-Russian propaganda within the world has indeed made an imprint on the Armenian psyche. Anyway, knowing well how some of our "nationalists" and agents of the West operate, I have no doubt that they will find yet another reason, doesn't matter how absurd and how irrational, to continue enthusiastically disseminating Washington's poisonous and corrosive propaganda within Armenia.

June, 2011


Community Ordered to Take Down Gen. Antranig Statue in Sochi

What was to bring together 5,000 to 6,000 Armenians from around the Krasnodar region of Russia and Abkhazia for a community-wide May 28 celebration turned sour when local authorities ordered the Armenian community here to bring down a statue of General Antranig, which was to be unveiled for the event. According to members of the Armenian community in Sochi, local authorities said that the statue must come down, or it will be demolished.

The authorities explained their decision saying that the unveiling of the statue might anger Turkey, which could refuse to take part in the construction of facilities for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014. Armenia’s Consul General Ararat Gomtsyan told Armenian activists of Sochi in a phone conversation that he was unable to do anything. He also advised them to adhere to authorities’ request. According to representatives of the Armenian community, the decision was adopted in Moscow, but not in the region. They claimed that pressure from Azeri groups led to the decision.

“There is a certain policy by the Russian authorities toward the Armenian population,” said a statement issued by the Armenian community, which claimed that anti-Armenian sentiments in Krasnodar were prevalent. Sochi and that region of Russia is home to a large number Hamshen-Armenians, who also issued a statement expressing their anger.

“General Antranig is not only a national hero but our compatriot, native of Trabzon, just like many Armenian residents of Sochi. It is not a mere coincidence that Armenians of Sochi were the organizers of the monument,” read the statement of Hemshin Armenians in Russia. “Dismantling of the monument is not only an affront to the memory of Gen. Antranig, but also to the memory of our ancestors,” said the Hamshen-Armenian announcement. The community said it considered the order an act of vandalism.

Gen. Antranig is an Armenian hero who led battles for the liberation movement of Armenia, including those for independence. He organized the defense efforts in Sassoun and Zangezour. He died in Fresno on August 31, 1927 and was buried in Paris until the Armenian government in 2000 arranged the relocation of his remains to Armenia where they are interred at Yerablour National Cemetery in Yerevan.


Armenian Ministry: General Andranik’s statue will be erected near Sochi

The statue of Armenian General Andranik Ozanian that was dismantled in the Russian city of Sochi even before being ceremonially unveiled late last month will be moved to a nearby town, a spokesman for Armenia’s Diaspora Ministry confirmed on Wednesday. In an interview with Tevos Nersisyan said that the local Armenian community had ignored the municipal regulations while erecting the four-meter-tall monument to the revered Armenian national hero of the late 19th-early 20th centuries.

“The Armenians initiated, ordered and got the statue ready and erected it without asking the authorities [for permission], failing to observe the basic regulations,” the Ministry’s representative explained, adding that after days of negotiations the local authorities had allowed the statue to be transported to Adler, which is home to a larger Armenian community.

The monument to General Andranik in the village of Volkonka near Sochi was to be ceremonially unveiled on May 28, the day marked by Armenians as First Republic Day in memory of the short-lived independent statehood in 1918-1920. But the night before the event the monument was unexpectedly dismantled and removed by the Sochi representatives of the Union of Armenians of Russia (UAR), who explained the move by the pressure from the Sochi municipality. The UAR later pledged to settle the matter.


Russian General: We Will Intervene to Protect Armenia
A few weeks ago there was some back and forth between Armenians and Azerbaijanis about whether Russia would come to Armenia's defense in the case of a war over Nagorno Karabakh. Well, now a top Russian general has weighed in, and he sounds pretty certain that Russia would get involved. General Andrei Tretyak, the Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Defense Ministry, discussed the Russian military's future plans with some analysts, and this is from Dmitry Gorenburg's account:

In a discussion on the situation in Karabakh, General Tretyak agreed with a participant’s assessment that the possibility of conflict in that region is high, but argued that it is gradually decreasing as a result of Russian efforts to reduce tension in the region. He disagreed with the suggestion that Russia’s relationship with Armenia is eroding and made clear that Russia will carry out its promises to that country. No one should see Russia’s refusal to intervene in Kyrgyzstan last summer as a precedent for Karabakh, as that was a very different situation.

Hmm, that can't make too many folks in Baku feel too confident. Tretyak also weighed in on Central Asia, and suggested that the Collective Security Treaty Organization could help fill the security vacuum that will be created by the U.S. leaving Afghanistan. And he seems to acknowledge that the CSTO kind of dropped the ball on Kyrgyzstan last year, when it did nothing to stop the pogroms that took place there in what many saw as the first big test of the collective security group: He also felt that what he saw as the inevitable US withdrawal from the region will have a negative effect on stability.

In this context, the CSTO may come to play a more important role in the region. General Tretyak pointed out that CSTO reforms are continuing. The major Russian military exercises in the summer and early fall will include CSTO states. The Russian military has looked at the issues that arose in conjunction with the Kyrgyzstan crisis and know how to act if a similar situation arises in the future; according to General Tretyak, there are no disagreements on this with Russia’s CSTO partners. The general further noted that the forces assigned to the CSTO are the best prepared of Russia’s forces, because Russia wants to increase the organization’s military effectiveness. General Tretyak reiterated the Russian position that it would like NATO to recognize the legitimacy of the CSTO and establish cooperation with it.

This seems to be a pointed message that the CSTO is learning from its mistakes in Kyrgyzstan -- and that those who expect it to stand aside in the future should think again.


Valdai Club 4: A conversation with General Tretyak

On Friday May 27th, the Valdai military section had the opportunity to meet with General Andrei Tretyak, the Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Defense Ministry. General Tretyak spoke about the achievements and remaining goals of the military reform, and then answered questions from the group. 

General Tretyak’s statement

General Tretyak began with a discussion of the reasons why the reform was started three years ago. At that point, he argued, the Russian military was a shard of the Soviet army, not adapted to the new conditions that it faced. If the government had waited any longer, it would have been even more difficult to carry out all the necessary reforms. In terms of equipment, the army had less than 5 percent modern technology, and troops were scattered around the whole country at 22,000 sites. Russia’s military doctrine was designed for a big war, not for the types of conflicts Russia was actually likely to face in the coming years. The military suffered from poor social conditions, low salaries, a lack of housing, and low prestige in society.

The general then turned to what has been accomplished so far to address these problems. In 2009-2010, the military created combat ready troops that can be ready to fight in one day. Before, it took weeks or months. He argued that although the army is now more compact, all the troops can be ready in hours. The four unified strategic commands control all the forces on their territory except airborne, space and nuclear forces, in both peacetime and wartime. Each command now has 2-3 strategic directions that it focuses on. This reform has thus reduced reaction time and increased the army’s combat potential. Brigades’ readiness and control coefficients are much higher now, even though their forces are less numerous than when they were divisions. At the end of his talk, General Tretyak addressed what he saw as the five main tasks remaining for the reform effort:
  1. Creating a single supply system. He noted that while this is difficult to establish, the MOD understands that the old division between armaments and supply is outdated so they’re starting to create a single supply chain. Though they face some difficulties, he argued that there has been progress.
  2. Improvements in combat training. There was a 30 percent increase in the number of exercises from 2009 to 2010, though more progress needs to be made in performance quality.
  3. Establishing a new basing system. The military is building 184 modern military bases with full amenities for the soldiers, their families and civilian support staff. As part of this task, they are outsourcing for basic tasks such as cleaning and cooking in order to free soldiers for military training. Though it is more expensive than the old system, they believe it’s worth the extra expense.
  4. Re-equipment and weapons modernization. This is the most difficult task. The government has allocated 20 trillion rubles to accomplish this task over the next ten years. He mentioned the two frequently noted targets – 30 percent modern equipment by 2016 and 70 percent by 2020. He went on to note that they don’t just mean physically new equipment; the equipment has to be truly modern — they want to have the best of each type of equipment. He noted that the MOD had already developed requirements for these weapons.
  5. Developing a new educational system for the military. The first step was shrinking the number of military educational institutions from 64 to 16. Now they are setting up a system of continuous professional military education. They’re also working on solving the start-up problems for preparing sergeants; General Tretyak believes that they will have fully qualified new sergeants in 1-2 years. At the same time, they will start paying more money to military pensioners and will solve the housing problem retired officers.

Discussion with General Tretyak 

The general made it clear that he was open to a discussion with the Valdai Club participants and did not want the meeting to turn into a press conference. There were a number of key themes covered during the discussion. 

Manpower and training

The most important of these was the question of manpower and training. One participant noted that there has been a lot of zig-zagging on introducing contract soldiers since the first discussions took place in the late 1990s. At the time, it was expected that the low salaries paid in the civilian economy would allow the military to hire high quality specialists. But as the economy improved over the last decade, military salaries quickly became inadequate for this purpose. The military was still able to get contract soldiers through various means, but these were people who didn’t fit the military’s needs because they were underqualified. So the MOD decided to move away from contracts and return to using conscripts as the core of the force. But when the length of conscript service was reduced to one year, the military quickly realized that it could no longer fill certain specialties with conscripts because of the extensive training required for these positions. He argued that these positions will have to be filled with contract soldiers.

I find that this sentiment is typical of Russian views of the purpose of hiring professional soldiers. The predominant idea is to hire qualified, well-educated specialists, rather than ‘green’ recruits. No one thinks along the lines of the US model, which involves bringing in untrained 18 year olds and turning them into qualified specialists through the military education system, with the goal of having a significant percentage of these soldiers choose to pursue a career in the military. Qualified specialists are those retained, rather than recruited. This seems to me to be a much better model for the Russian military to follow, as long as it can get its retention rates up by following through on plans to improve salaries and living conditions for professional soldiers.

Another participants asked General Tretyak about progress with the new education program for sergeants. The general responded by mentioning that the new system follows foreign models. In the old Russian system, the sergeants had fairly narrow training and didn’t know as much as junior officers. So they couldn’t replace them in training enlisted soldiers. Now the goal is to have sergeants who will dedicate their lives to the military and will have wider knowledge. The first graduates of the sergeant training center will enter the military next year.

The general also noted that the MOD is considering the possibility of foreign military training for Russian officers. If carried out, this would be an interesting shift. In the past, the only officers sent for courses abroad were those about to leave the service, as such training was not considered conducive to further promotion in the service. If officers are actually sent to foreign courses and then promoted, this would mark a significant mentality shift among the military leadership.

Finally, the general also addressed the future of conscription. Ne noted that everyone, including the children of elites, should be required to serve in the military. He pointed to Belarus as a model in this regard, arguing that in Belarus everyone wants to serve because serving in the military is patriotic, prestigious, and has a positive effect on future career prospects. This is the goal the Russian government has in mind as it goes about gradually eliminating exemptions to service. 

Potential military threats and security concerns

General Tretyak noted that according to the MOD’s current assessment, Russia’s doesn’t currently face any military threats, though it does have some significant security concerns, such as the possibility of a renewed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, since Russia has relations with both sides. In a discussion on the situation in Karabakh, General Tretyak agreed with a participant’s assessment that the possibility of conflict in that region is high, but argued that it is gradually decreasing as a result of Russian efforts to reduce tension in the region. He disagreed with the suggestion that Russia’s relationship with Armenia is eroding and made clear that Russia will carry out its promises to that country. No one should see Russia’s refusal to intervene in Kyrgyzstan last summer as a precedent for Karabakh, as that was a very different situation.

General Tretyak also noted that Russia remains concerned about the security of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and about the threat of terrorism in the Caucasus. In the Western direction, he mentioned the existence of some territorial disputes with the Baltic states, but made it clear that these are being worked out diplomatically. In the southern direction, he noted that Kazakhstan is a close ally but reiterated the Russian fear that stability in Central Asia is likely to decline because of the possibility of North Africa-type mass protests events occurring there. He also felt that what he saw as the inevitable US withdrawal from the region will have a negative effect on stability.

In this context, the CSTO may come to play a more important role in the region. General Tretyak pointed out that CSTO reforms are continuing. The major Russian military exercises in the summer and early fall will include CSTO states. The Russian military has looked at the issues that arose in conjunction with the Kyrgyzstan crisis and know how to act if a similar situation arises in the future; according to General Tretyak, there are no disagreements on this with Russia’s CSTO partners. The general further noted that the forces assigned to the CSTO are the best prepared of Russia’s forces, because Russia wants to increase the organization’s military effectiveness. General Tretyak reiterated the Russian position that it would like NATO to recognize the legitimacy of the CSTO and establish cooperation with it.

The general then turned to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which has significant political influence in Central Asia. The military component is primarily based on the Chinese and Russian militaries. The organization has continuing plans to organize SCO military exercises. Both CSTO and SCO will inevitably increase their role in the region after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

General Tretyak noted that China is Russia’s ally. At the same time, Russia is looking carefully at the development of the Chinese military, even as it helps it develop further. For now, they do not see any threat to Russia from Chinese military development. He further noted that no final decision has been made on where the Mistral ships being purchased from France will be based, though the Pacific is certainly a priority for Russia.

On the question of tactical weapons, and their connection to the CFE treaty and missile defense, General Tretyak argued that future warfare will not be frontal, but will focus on deep penetration. Russia is open for discussions on tactical weapons, but only under conditions of equality. For now, an understanding on this issue has not been reached. Russia wants to include all the nuclear states (UK, France, China) in the discussion, not just the US. On missile defense, he noted that there may have been a positive turn at the presidential meeting in Deauxville and considered it possible that an agreement could be reached this year. 

The Russian military’s organizational structure

As the discussion turned to the structure and armament of the Russian military, one participant wondered how the organizational structure of the military be identical in all four Unified Strategic Commands, given the different natures of the threats and security concerns faced by Russia in different parts of the world?

General Tretyak responded that a unified command structure doesn’t mean that one size fits all. Russia has heavy, medium and light brigades. Heavy brigades use tracked vehicles, medium ones use heavily armored wheeled vehicles, while light brigades use lightly armored wheeled vehicles. Some USCs will have more of one kind of brigade or another, and each brigade will in itself be modular and adaptable for different circumstances. Units on the Kuril Islands are organized differently, because these are islands with very different defense requirements. And Russia is in the process of forming separate Arctic brigades, with differences in armament because of the different environment and climate conditions in the far north.

One participant asked why airborne troops are still directly under the command of the general staff. General Tretyak responded that airborne troops can be used anywhere, so they can’t be subordinated to a particular geographic regional command.

On the topic of armament, the general contradicted statements made at the Valdai club panel two days before that R&D spending was set to decreases significantly in the new State Armaments Program. He said that 32-34 percent of SAP funding would go to R&D, including spending on long term development projects. He argued that the main priorities for rearmament are the nuclear forces, the navy, and the air force, because strategic deterrence is the highest priority for the military and these are the forces that carry out those tasks.

Finally, on the question of the extent of military cooperation with foreign states on information warfare issues, General Tretyak pointed out that for now there’s little technological cooperation with other states and Russia would like to have more. He pointed to the positive experience of cooperation with Israel on UAVs, arguing that Russia really needed their assistance when that was set up. (The unstated implication, it seemed to me, is that such help is no longer needed. In other words, he seemed to be saying that Russia can now build its own UAVs. I haven’t seen any proof of this so far…) 


Overall, I had a very positive impression of General Tretyak and of the overall tone of the conversation. The general seems to be part of a cohort of top military officials who are open to learning from a wide range of experience, including the best practices of Western militaries. He also gave the impression of being very much open to dialogue with foreign officers and analysts. There was none of the lecturing tone that used to be the standard mode of communication between Russian generals and their foreign interlocutors. What we had was two hours of open discussion between one of the top Russian military officials and a combined group of foreign and Russian military experts and journalists. I left the discussion with a very positive view of the possibilities for the future development of the Russian military and for cooperation between it and Western military forces.

Of course, there are other cohorts in the Russian military, who continue to resist reform and close contact with the West. For now, the pro-engagement forces are in ascendance. Hopefully that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.


Related news:

Armenia expects Russian support in Karabakh war

Armenia is counting on support from its ex-Soviet military allies, including Russia, if war breaks out with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, the defense minister said Thursday. A member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO, which has been touted as a post-Soviet answer to NATO, Armenia is locked in an increasingly tense dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“Given Armenia’s membership in the CSTO, we can count on an appropriate response and the support of our allies in the organization, who have specific responsibilities to each other and the ability to react adequately to potential aggression,” Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told a security conference in Yerevan.

A flashpoint of the Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is a constituent part of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia since the end of 1994. While internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, the enclave has declared itself an independent republic but is administered as a de facto part of Armenia. Azerbaijan has repeatedly threatened to use force to win back Karabakh if peace negotiations do not yield satisfactory results, while Yerevan has warned of large-scale retaliation if Baku launches any military action.

Nikolai Bordyuzha, the general secretary of the CSTO – whose members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – told the conference that the organization opposed any attempts to resolve the Karabakh conflict by force. Moscow is Yerevan’s main economic and military partner, and the Armenian parliament last month ratified a deal to allow Russia to maintain a military base in the country until 2044. Officials said this would ensure Armenia’s security and protect Russian interests in the former Soviet region, where the Kremlin wants to play a leading role.


Armenian Military Obtains Smerch

According to a Russian military publication, citing a top official Russia's the Rosobornexport, the Armenian Defense Ministry delegation members attending the Milex–2011 military expo held in Minsk, Belarus, were interested in the Russian-built modern multiple rocket launcher system Smerch. When contacted by, Armenian defense minister's spokesman Davit Karapetyan denied to comment on the report, adding only that the Armenian armed forces periodically update their arsenal with modern weaponry. An anonymous source at the Defense Ministry, however, confirmed to that the Armenian military has already obtained the system. The BM-30 Smerch or 9A52 is designed to defeat personnel, armored, and soft-skinned targets in concentration areas, artillery batteries, command posts and ammunition depots.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.