Russian Army: Red Army Blues

The Russian army is in a shambles. Most units are not ready to fight, the few resources are often completely misappropriated. Young conscripts face a system inherited from the gulags which reduces many to a pitiful state. After spending months filming conscript units, Paul Jenkins concludes that the west might step in and help Moscow create a professional military it can do business with.

The World Today Published 1 August 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 6 minute READ

Paul Jenkins

Freelance film producer and member of Chatham House

President Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power has refocused minds in Russia and the west on the state institutions which, in the final analysis, are the bedrock for his administration. Without the army and interior troops, Putin’s bark would remain very much worse than his bite.

Increasingly it seems that his administration is conducting a determined and concerted plan – despite all the difficulties – to re-centralise Russia and return power as far as possible to Moscow and the Kremlin. This attempt would be undermined considerably were he not able to call upon the services of the military to control any adverse reaction and, if necessary, perhaps enforce his will. There is a visible effort underway to raise the profile and prestige of the military inside Russia, to counteract the Yeltsin years of decline, and instil a new patriotism.

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