Europeans are eager to criticize the US foreign politics and warfare. The US is not carrying the responsibility of their new "world police" role acceptably. It is easy to say that, when the responsibility doesn't weigh on one's shoulders. Before the Cold War Russia, or then the Soviet Union was Europe's mighty power and an opposing opinion. After the collapsing of the USSR the dark shadow and power that was casting a pressuring atmosphere on half of the world (the other half were allies of the USSR) was gone. Within numerous empty organizations and non-functioning massive structures were left among the dust. One of which is the Russian army.
Several Russian army servicemen have filed complaints of serious bullying (beatings, starvation, and bad hygiene). The progress of these complaints cannot be followed, because often the files just magically disappear from the system. Meanwhile thousands of young men suffer from torture, murders and depression leading to suicides. The human rights organization Amnesty International has taken action to prevent and punish bullying in the Russian Army. According to them and to the organization of soldiers' mothers in Russia, over 2,000 service men have died in a year while `settling scores'.
When looking at Chechnya, a territory Russia occupied to prevent it from becoming independent, we can see the real corruption and the causes that keep everyone tied in the system for their own benefits. The Time magazine released an article in October 2003 about war corruption in Chechnya. In the article Yuri Zarakhovich questions if the Russians will ever leave the territory. Also according to the Time magazine it seems that the army is divided in two; there are the drafted young soldiers that face much of the anger and frustration of the contracted professional soldiers. Reality is that the drafted men are the ones that suffer the most.
Families all over the huge country fear losing their sons to the army and never seeing them again. Conscription law was changed in 1995 extending the years of service from 18 months to 2 years. The new conscription law offers soldiers less than a dollar a day in wages. Moreover these drafted boys are often not so well educated, coming from the poorer side of the population, while the richer boys are either taken out of the country, or hidden from the drafters. Often even the drafted men themselves do not know where they are placed, let alone the drafters. They reflect the situation of the whole population of Russia. They are tossed around, left on their own and not taken care of. Nobody seems to know what to do with them. After almost a century of communism it is hard for Russians to determine to what extent the government should rule the lives of the individuals.
This division is a result of the battle over should the army be turned into a contract army or not. The contract killers are generally wealthy generals, who according to State Duma deputy Vice Admiral Valery Dorogin make less than $200 a month. (www.pravda.com) Many of the generals make additional money by selling guns and other supplies of the army to guerillas in rebelling parts of the country. Reportedly even the Iraqis bought weapons from Russia, although legally. Time-magazine mentions how according to local Chechens the weapons that kill Russians are bought from nearest Russian military base. Other way of contract soldiers to make money is to simply sell drafted men to nearest farms to slave labor. Gigantic farms are a part of the heritage of the Soviet Union and they need work force.
Anna Politkovskaya supports this theory. Her trips to Chechnya have made her a witness to the torture of the thin, pale faced and weak by the well fed, strong and bribe taking. She has released books and articles over the issue and criticizes the politics of the Russians government.
The frustration shows on everyone's face; on the miserable drug using drafted men, money hunting obsessed killers and the political leaders of the nation. No wonder Russia's foreign policy is not on the top of the list when the country is collapsing to its own too big feet. Valery Dorogin says that it is extremely important for the soldier to know what they're fighting for. When there is no future plans made on a national or on an individual level it comes to just surviving. The state of the army reflects the state of the entire nation of Russia. It now has to come together and plan a future and reach for it.
Just a couple of days ago came news from Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov that by the end of 2007 Russia will have adopted an army 50 % staffed by contract service men. He also mentioned that by 2008 the term of military service will be reduced to one year. Earlier in February President Putin has given comments that indicated his interest in developing the army. He is known as a the president who pulled Russia back from involvement in international issues to military expenses. Now he says that Russia "carries special responsibility for global safety". We will soon see if he realizes that in order to `carry international safety' he needs capable defense forces.