Putin orders increase in spying and military budgets

Russia is to increase its military and intelligence spending again:

Eye spy“The situation in the world and internal political interests require the Foreign Intelligence Service to permanently increase its capabilities, primarily in the field of information and analytical support for the country’s leadership,” said Putin.

Or, to put it another way: ‘we need more spies’.

Which is probably a good idea, considering that Spain have just uncovered a Russian double agent operating within Spanish intelligence:

The suspect, Robert Flores Garcia, was arrested Monday morning at his home on Tenerife Island in Spain’s Canary Islands. He passed secrets in exchange for hefty payments from December 2001 to February 2004, said the spy chief, Alberto Saiz, head of the National Intelligence Agency (known by its Spanish initials CNI).

[…] The suspect allegedly revealed the names of dozens of Spanish spies, possibly including the seven Spanish spies killed in an ambush south of Baghdad in November 2003, Saiz said.

Yet another EU country with soon-to-be frosty relations with Russa.

You may also like...

14 Responses

  1. Aleks says:

    He’s only doing what everyone else is doing, so nothing new there. The question is, where exactly are these resources targetted? Anti-terrorism? Commercial espionage (regularly practiced between allies), more military espionage etc. etc. Also, what is Russia’s military budget now? It is becoming more and more opaque (still, not as opaque as the Chinese).

    The West had an intelligence bonanza in the FSU during the 1990s, but even the Russians have learnt that there are plenty of westerners who are willing to sell out their own for enough cash.

    One mistake the Russians never made that the Americans did was to direct vast sums of money into technological solutions (they still do and have wasted already billions: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/06/spooks-for-hire.html). It also reflects western foreign policy on the cheap where it is easy to send the bombers in, but finding enough troops was a problem and has only become much more serious.

    So, hopefully the money is going in to people and not expensive, flashy toys. On reflection, I don’t think that is takes a particularly long stretch of the imagination to presume that the reason for such annoying bureaucracy for foreigners coming to work/visit Russia (not to mention the ‘internal passport’ for Russians) is partly security led…

  2. W. Shedd says:

    My understanding is that Russia is greatly increasing their budgets across the board, often doubling and tripling the amount of money they spend on various aspects of their budget. I don’t think this defense spending represents such large percent increases.

    I had actually recently seen an article suggesting that the Russian government budget would be run at a slight deficit by about 2009 or 2010, based on planned spending and revenues, etc.

  3. Aleks says:

    I think that is generally true, but more telling are the small stories that come out, i.e. the new uniforms for the armed services, for example.

    If the services were in such a bad state, new uniforms would be the last thing on their mind (and I also read somewhere that new footware will be ordered).

    None of this stuff is sexy, big ticket stuff so it it’s significance is generally missed.

    A good question is why did Putin wait so long to put money into the military (which as you pointed out is not so much)? I think a fair answer is that it would disappear into the pockets of corrupt officers. He needed time to slim down the officer corps, pension off as many of the generals as possible, and place his own trusted men in key positions (that was how Stalin did it).

    Still, by direct comparison to western spending, it’s peanuts (probably less than the UK or France), but it goes a lot further. Putin kept the military-industrial complex on life support thus forcing it to consolidate under his control, i.e. Rosboroexport(sp?), OAK for aviation.

    Compare this to Europe where there are still at least half a dozen tank manufacturers and lots of other duplication in the business of delivering death in ever more imaginative forms.

    The EU is starting to pull its act together in the form of joint procurement and if duplication in R&D etc. is eliminated, the EU might be able to offer better and cheaper whizz-bangs than the the US, and might actually be able to afford reasonable numbers and thus give real military muscle to Europe’s hilarious Common Foreign and Security Policies (CFSP(?))… This would ultimately undermine US military influence in Europe and its ability to ‘persuade’ the europeans to whistle its tune…

  4. Tim Newman says:

    even the Russians have learnt that there are plenty of westerners who are willing to sell out their own for enough cash.

    The Russians learned about six decades ago that there were plenty of westerners who were willing to sell out their own for free. Little has changed.

  5. Aleks says:

    Putin kept the taps off whilst he put fsb apparatchiks in place, pensioned off the old guard and forced the control of arms production under Rosboronexport(sp?) and unified all the aviation companies under OAK. They had to comply if they wanted the cash. Puting suceeded in slaying the military-industrial complex (at least for the foreseeable future). Maybe one day the US will manage it too…

    I think Russia’s spending is still below that of France and the UK (33b squids or so), but on the other hand, the equivalent cash goes much further in Russia. Boeing employs several hundred russian engineer in moscow, france an italy are heavily involved in the’Super Jet’ and other forms of high-tech cooperation are expanding.

    Once the rail line between north and south korea is up to capacity, it will be much cheaper to bring goods to Europe across the russian rail network than ship them from asia (and all the chemical/biological pollution/hazards that it entails). Everything points to Russia becoming more essential than just a supplier of raw materials…

    Back to the weapons, I was having a look at the english language press at the weekend, Newsweek had a splash about Putin the tyrant, the Spectator a hysterical article ‘The Cold War is back. The new arms race is deadly because Russia is so fragile’, arguing that whilst Russia’s infrastructure crumbles, Putin is blowing all the money on weapons… (not like the US highway system, road networks or levees then!). I’ve just read that the EU says the Ukraine is in with a better chance of joining the WTO by the end of the year (well, the EU still let deeply corrupt Bulgaria and Romania join the EU). It’s all madness. Rant over.

  6. Aleks says:

    “Little has changed.”

    True, but the Russians have some serious moolah now (now that there’s nothing left to believe in). It wouldn’t surprise me either if some of the help for ‘strategic reasons’, i.e. they see the US as the threat and they want a ‘balanced’ multi-polar world. I think that was the reason why Klaus Fuchs (and other non-communists) gave atom bomb secrets to the soviets. It shows they understood ‘deterrence’ long before it came offcial policy.

  7. Lyndon says:

    The West had an intelligence bonanza in the FSU during the 1990s, but even the Russians have learnt that there are plenty of westerners who are willing to sell out their own for enough cash.

    Aleks, what exactly was the bonanza? What did we need to “obtain” from Russia in the ’90s? I’m sure that it became easier to obtain whatever was necessary, I’m just not sure what exactly was needed in terms of intel. Please clarify.

    It also reflects western foreign policy on the cheap where it is easy to send the bombers in, but finding enough troops was a problem and has only become much more serious.

    True.

    I don’t think that is takes a particularly long stretch of the imagination to presume that the reason for such annoying bureaucracy for foreigners coming to work/visit Russia (not to mention the ‘internal passport’ for Russians) is partly security led…

    This, on the other hand, is preposterous. It takes quite an imagination to understand how a country that wants to grow economically and integrate with the rest of the world (or maybe it doesn’t want that) could continue to impose such stringent visa restrictions. And please don’t refer to the difficulty of obtaining a US visa – I understand the concept of reciprocity, but there’s no comparison between the amount of people who overstay their visas in the US and the amount of people who do so in Russia (Russia’s illegals are mostly people from countries with no visa regime).

    Puting [sic] suceeded in slaying the military-industrial complex (at least for the foreseeable future). Maybe one day the US will manage it too…

    If the goal is to “slay” financial-industrial influences over policy, I’d say Russia has a stretch longer to go than the US. Aside from the MIC/VPK, let’s not leave aside the oil/gas sector, which seems to have a firm grasp on Russia’s foreign policy at the moment (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Once the rail line between north and south korea is up to capacity, it will be much cheaper to bring goods to Europe across the russian rail network than ship them from asia (and all the chemical/biological pollution/hazards that it entails). Everything points to Russia becoming more essential than just a supplier of raw materials…

    Sorry, I’m trying to understand your point – fixing the rail connection between NK and SK will somehow make Russian railways into a key transit point (not that it isn’t already, but how will this change things materially)? Please clarify.

    I was having a look at the english language press at the weekend, Newsweek had a splash about Putin the tyrant, the Spectator a hysterical article ‘The Cold War is back. The new arms race is deadly because Russia is so fragile’, arguing that whilst Russia’s infrastructure crumbles, Putin is blowing all the money on weapons…

    I try not to read such nonsense and agree that it is nonsense.

    (not like the US highway system…)

    But wait – I assume you’ve driven on the US highway system. Does it not “work”? Agreed that it cost an inordinate amount of money to build, but I know that I can get in a car and drive from point A to point B in the US at roughly 80 miles per hour on smooth roads, with convenient exits along the way, service stations, hotels, etc. Does the Russian military “work” as well as this – i.e., are the expenditures justified by results? Not to mention the state of Russian “highways”…

    I too apologize for the rant-like post…

  8. W. Shedd says:

    Puting [sic] suceeded [sic] in slaying the military-industrial complex (at least for the foreseeable future).

    Putin succeeded in slaying the military-industrial complex? Is that what you are trying to suggest?

    I seem to recall that the Russian military industrial complex was slain far before Putin became president. If anything, his efforts have looked more like attempting to revive the Russian military-industrial complex. Russian arms exports totaled $6.5 billion last year, which was a new record. Rosboronexport isn’t exactly a dying or slain company.

  9. Aleks says:

    L,

    Lots of dirty dealings. One clear example is the sale of a S-300 SAM system to and ‘american company’ which means the CIA. People like Edmund Pope are/were used as fronts (either knowingly or unknowingly) to buy up as much sensitive equipment as possible, Almaz missile bureau who designed the S-300 provided (though whether this was a double-bluff and they provided a ‘turkey’ S-300 system I can’t say). Later, the head of Almaz was assassinated (whether it was actually linked with this, I guess it is likely). People were desperate for cash, from soldiers in Chechnya selling their weapons to chechen rebels, to weapons companies with no sales and thus no money to reinvest into R&D, and then passing off dodgy and second-hand goods when they do make a sale (India complained about shoddy work on stuff they bought). God knows what else was purloined, but I couldn’t imagine that all those ‘closed cities’ were invulnerable to penetration.

    My guess on the visa/passport thing is mostly calculated paranoia. The Russians know that the country is very attractive for inward investment. Serious money won’t be kept out by such trifles (I’m thinking here of Ben Browder of Hermitage, who despite not being allowed to return, has certainly been less critical about it that one would have imagined). Unfortunately, it seems that the government doesn’t understand the importance of SME’s to building a diverse, dynamic and durable economy, preferring to focus on the big-ticket projects. Then again, they might just be trying for a balance of investment between several different countries. If I remember correctly, Germany used to be the largest investor until fairly recently, but has been eclipsed by the UK… I’m trying to think like a spy here….

    NK & SK. Ok, I admit here that I’m winging it a bit (probably more)! It’s my guess that increased loads will bring more trade into the interior of Russia which is still some way behind the big towns, but still improving rather than stagnating. I guess that better salaries mean that the internal consumer market is finally worth targeting with high value goods (anything with a chip in it, amongst others). Everyone will benefit.

    According to US news that I’ve read, there’s been some talk in the states about lack of investment in the highways and that they are falling apart and need billions in investment (the same is said for Amtrak). This is a common malady (as in the UK with its train system) as infrastructure projects are not that sexy. One example is the failure in both Europe and the US of the electricity transmission grids (California, NY, Switzerland etc.) where almost all the investment went into creating energy creation, but very little into the infrastructure, hence a small fault leading to a cascade of fault that ultimately leave millions of people in the dark.

    I know the Russian military exists, though like you, I can’t see them doing an Eisenhower(?me thinks?) style military convoy from coast to coast… It would be one hell of a road trip! The military’s state must be better than before, not just because Tu-95 can afford (the gas) to fly around the UK and down the east coast of the US, but that they are investing in new uniforms. The latter might seem like a small matter, but I think it is symptomatic in that they wouldn’t even be thinking of new uniforms if conscripts were boiling their boots for lunch and rustling chickens from nearby settlements (that is if there are any). Russia recently announced that it’s geologist have proved that Russia is linked territorially to the Arctic and that they are sending a submarine to collect more data to back up their claim for a much larger chunk (which also purportedly holds huge reserves of energy). All these little things separately might not mean much, but cumulatively, it means that someone thinks they have money to burn. As for the
    Russian highways, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one, but I make do in a voyeuristic manner by visiting englishrussia.com regularly…

    After all that (and getting lost somewhere in the middle), I think my point was that resources spend for war in Iraq etc. are resources that are not available for other fundamental infrastructure/interstate projects/maintenance. There’s only so much cash about.

    W.

    From what I understand, the MIC just about continued its existence and was holding on for the good times. As long as old guard Soviet generals were still ‘running’ the military, the chances of real reform that would produce an effective military force for the future defense (and offense) of Russia was slim. Much like, say, the congressmen who lobby Washington on behalf of the local whizz-bang company (I read somewhere(!) that this was a deliberate policy by the arms manufacturers to stymie MacNamara’s attempts to bring it to heel).

    If Putin hadn’t removed the old guard and made $$$ a condition of industry consolidation, then it would have remained a monster who would have made guaranteed fat profits on everything, continuing to milk the tax payer and the government.

    Rosoboron­export (I missed the second ‘o’) is a Putin (Ivanov?) creation (more or less). He took a shell, filled it with his men, and then squeezed/blackmailed/threatened/whatever to give up their ‘independence’ and that Rbx is the sole actor charged with selling russian weapons abroad. No more gonzo sales (like sending engineer to maintain Saddam’s jets etc.). I think a Kazakhstan’s Ulan Ude factory very recently became the most recent member… The Russian forces aren’t buying much in the way of big ticket items apart form new ICBMs, early warning satellites and SLBMs. The airforce is getting mostly upgrades, but more importantly, they are (should be) getting enough gas that they don’t kill each other through lack of training or their equipment explodes and lots and lots of training. The best kit for the army goes to the new air-mobile brigades which I guess will be the core of a ?????????? army.

    I wouldn’t trust Putin further than I could throw him (though I guess his martial arts are somewhat better than my own!), but, like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, he has a plan.

    P.S. Latest FSB assassin uncovered in the US. Code name ‘Oscar’ : http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20070726/tod-health-us-animals-f62056d.html

  10. Last summer, a current and long time resident of Moscow told me that the roads throughout the Greater Moscow area are better than what he experienced in the Greater New York metropolitan area. On the other hand, Moscow’s trafic is worse than New York’s. Quite a scarey thought.

    For decades, The Moscow subway system has been superior to New York’s.

    On Russian defense spending, there has been acknowledgement from some in American officialdom that a qualitative upgrade of Russia’s conventional armed forces isn’t a bad idea.

    ————————————————-

    “The Russians learned about six decades ago that there were plenty of westerners who were willing to sell out their own for free. Little has changed.”

    ****

    Vice versa as well.

  11. Lyndon says:

    Later, the head of Almaz was assassinated (whether it was actually linked with this, I guess it is likely).

    If this was the Almaz-Antei guy, wasn’t it actually (allegedly) because he didn’t want to get in bed with the Rosoboronexport people or because of some other Russian-to-Russian razborka? Or am I misremembering something?

    People were desperate for cash, from soldiers in Chechnya selling their weapons to chechen rebels, to weapons companies with no sales and thus no money to reinvest into R&D, and then passing off dodgy and second-hand goods when they do make a sale (India complained about shoddy work on stuff they bought).

    I can’t see what this has to do with a western intelligence “bonanza” in the ’90s. Don’t you think the US would be able to put its hands on a few AK-47’s even without the conscripts in Chechnya who tragically sold their guns for food or booze? I guess you’re suggesting that everything and everyone was for sale, and maybe that was true up to a point, but I still think secrets were guarded, and anything that wasn’t guarded wasn’t worth stealing – though given the situation at some nuclear facilities, maybe I’m wrong about this.

    The military’s state must be better than before…

    Without a doubt, but it was a pretty low baseline and throwing money at things only solves the problems temporarily if the money is not used competently (perhaps it is being allocated properly, but that remains to be seen).

    …they are investing in new uniforms. The latter might seem like a small matter, but I think it is symptomatic in that they wouldn’t even be thinking of new uniforms if conscripts were boiling their boots for lunch and rustling chickens from nearby settlements (that is if there are any).

    I am happy to hear about the new unis and agree that in the context of the post-Soviet Russian military it’s quite significant.

    If Putin hadn’t removed the old guard and made $$$ a condition of industry consolidation, then it would have remained a monster who would have made guaranteed fat profits on everything, continuing to milk the tax payer and the government.

    But it seems like all he did was remove the old guard and install his people (as you say), who are in effect the same old VPK, just working under the state umbrella, and no doubt demanding the same old fat profits, except now they’re going straight into someone’s pocket. Russia’s treasury is a rich milch-cow indeed at the moment, and I’m sure the arms guys are milking it as fast as they can. The fact that they are employed by a state-run enterprise and not by a “private” company doesn’t change anything about human nature.

    According to US news that I’ve read, there’s been some talk in the states about lack of investment in the highways and that they are falling apart and need billions in investment (the same is said for Amtrak).

    Amtrak is horrible and should not be confused with the US interstate highway system. There may be problems with roads or road capacity or maintenance in certain isolated places, but I reiterate what I said earlier – I know that I can get in my car (any car, it doesn’t have to be an SUV or anything special) and drive from any city in the US to any other city. The same cannot be said about Russia, even if you exclude the areas with permafrost and other climate issues where one wouldn’t expect there to be good roads.

    One example is the failure in both Europe and the US of the electricity transmission grids (California, NY, Switzerland etc.) where almost all the investment went into creating energy creation, but very little into the infrastructure, hence a small fault leading to a cascade of fault that ultimately leave millions of people in the dark.

    Here’s the thing: when millions of people are left in the dark in the US, it’s international news. When large parts of Moscow experience blackouts or brownouts (to say nothing of the hot water issues – I’ll leave that one alone), it’s not on CNN because it’s not international news. I’m not saying it happens all the time, but it does happen once in awhile. If I had to bet my life on the reliability of electricity in a particular country, I can think of several I’d choose before Russia, even if we consider Moscow to be Russia.

    Last summer, a current and long time resident of Moscow told me that the roads throughout the Greater Moscow area are better than what he experienced in the Greater New York metropolitan area.

    No doubt, and they are better than DC’s roads also. But all this fact does is highlight how different Moscow is from the rest of Russia. Moscow is not Russia (if you know what I mean), and in any event I was talking about the quality of interstate (or inter-regional) highway systems, not the quality of roads in the major cities. I had Muscovite friends who on several occasions dissuaded me from driving from Moscow to SPB – claiming that the roads were bad and there were “bandits.” I can’t say I really believe this, and I think the fear is a relic from the ’90s, but I don’t think you’d ever have someone telling you not to drive I-95 from DC to NY for such reasons.

    For decades, The Moscow subway system has been superior to New York’s.

    It’s the best subway system I’ve seen – much better than London, Paris, DC – Hong Kong’s is cleaner and quite efficient, but not as attractive. I love the Moscow metro and miss it often. But you’re just responding to critiques of Russia by pointing out areas where Russia (or rather Moscow) is “better.”

  12. I know one Russian from St. Pete who has made many trips back and forth to Moscow by car. He never encountered any problem.

    Meantime, when driving from New York to Flordia, there’ve been a good number of stories about those with New York license plates getting pulled over and harassed by the authorities in some of the southern states.

  13. Tim Newman says:

    There is no comparison between the road systems in the US and those in Russia. I’ve driven across 26 US states, and unfortunately I have to drive on Russian roads every day. If you are on a strip of tarmac in Russia it is a blessing. If the strip of tarmac doesn’t feature potholes which would swallow a hippo, you know you’re on an oil facility.

    It’s also worth remembering that there really is no national road system in Russia. In the US, you can get in your car and drive from your house to any other address in the contiguous states. In many Russian cities this is impossible as there is simply no road system which connects one place with everywhere else.

    Meantime, when driving from New York to Flordia, there’ve been a good number of stories about those with New York license plates getting pulled over and harassed by the authorities in some of the southern states.

    No doubt. When driving from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to Korsakov, a distance of 37km, there have been a good number of stories, several of them told by me first-hand, about those with Sakhalin license plates getting pulled over and harassed by the authorities of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Korsakov.

  14. Robert Moses might’ve have done better for himself in this era and in Russia. Ken Burns’ PBS historical documentary on New York provides excellent background of Moses’ strong and weak points regarding the development of modern road ways.

    One thing that Russia does especially well is produce great sour cream and black bread.

    My late night/early morning snack of such is serving as a reminder.

    Hopefully, Russia can advance without losing that fine touch. “Progress” can often result in such a loss.