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Military


General Yuri Baluyevsky
Chief of the General Staff

In July 2004, replacing Anatoly Kvashnin, General of the Army Yuri Baluyevsky was appointed Chief of the General Staff, First Deputy Prime Minister. Before, Baluyevsky managed to get along with many complicated superiors, including Gen. Vladislav Achalov, a former member of the State of Emergency Committee, which staged a coup in 1991, General of the Army Anatoly Kvashnin, and Sergei Ivanov. In 1993, Baluyevsky had been sent to Transcaucasia where he served as First Deputy Commander, Group of Russian Forces, till 1995. In June 1995, Yuri Baluyevskiy returned to the General Staff taking the posts of Chief of Directorate and Deputy Chief of Generall Strategic Directorate. Assuming the office of Chief at the General Strategic Directorate, August, 1997, Baluyevskiy simultaneously took the post of First Deputy Chief of the General Staff where he served till July, 2004, when he was delegated the powers and responsibilities of Chief of the General Staff, First Deputy Minister of Defence.

Minister of Defense Serdyukov, a former furniture salesman, and Baluyevsky, a career soldier, rarely if ever saw eye to eye. Their troubles appear to have arisen because there is no clear delineation between the functions of the General Staff and the Defense Ministry. And as soon as the Defense Ministry set in motion changes that encroached on the interests of one or other military clan, because of this institutionalized contradiction, the slighted parties will complain to the chief of the General Staff.

When Serdyukov offered to resign in September 2007 after his father-in-law, Viktor Zubkov, was named prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle, Baluyevsky was at pains to disguise his satisfaction. The chief of the General Staff allegedly told reporters that in the wake of Serdyukov, even a woman could lead the Defense Ministry -- a comment seen as a grave insult to the minister.

Baluyevsky was a close ally of outgoing President Putin, supporting his opposition to a proposed U.S. missile-defense shield to be built in Central Europe. And, like Putin, he liked to indulge in Cold War rhetoric, as when he warned that Russia was ready to use force -- including preemptively and with nuclear weapons -- to defend itself against potential threats from what he called "international terrorism or countries seeking global or regional hegemony."

Baluyevsky's colleagues said that he sent in for resignation several times because he disagreed with the defense minister's views on the military reform, and his decisions to get rid of non-core assets, move the Peter the Great Military Academy of the Strategic Missile Force out of Moscow, to introduce changes in other higher educational military establishments, and to oust the military from a number of historic buildings in downtown Moscow without proper compensation.

Baluyevsky celebrated his 61st birthday on 09 January 2008, and may have applied for retirement (by law, generals serve until 60). But, most likely, he did this because he openly disagreed with some of Serdyukov's decisions. Replying to a question from the audience at the session of the Academy of Military Sciences on 19 January 2008, he described the transfer of the Navy's Chief Command from Moscow to St. Petersburg as "untimely," which was Serdyukov's decision.

It was reported in March 2008 that chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Gen. Yury Baluyevsky was going to retire. There was no official denial of this report, and political analysts have interpreted it as valid.

There was another telltale detail. Baluyevsky always took part in strategic security talks with the United States on a par with Lavrov's deputy Sergei Kislyak. But this time he was conspicuously absent from a recent bilateral two-plus-two summit attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and his U.S. counterpart Robert Gates. His place was occupied by his first deputy Colonel-General Alexander Burutin. Officially, Baluevsky was absent because he was on vacation. It is not uncommon to summon experts for a couple of days when they are on leave, but Baluyevsky was not asked to come for a reason.

The foreign press even carried a report that his absence at the recent summit may mean the Kremlin's decision to ease its stand on the deployment of a US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. But both Lavrov and Serdyukov said at the final news conference that there are no changes in Moscow's position on this issue.

Baluyevsky also criticized the situation where more than 30 civilian advisors to the defense minister (who previously headed the Federal Tax Service) were making decisions without consulting military professionals. He and a number of other generals believe that these civilian decisions may reduce the country's defense capability and security. But expert opinions are not heeded. Judging by everything, it was too much for the chief of the to bear.

It was rumored that Serdyukov had already approved Baluyevsky's resignation, and that now the document is in the Kremlin - only the president had the right to make decisions on the appointment or resignation of the chief of the General Staff.

Few doubted that his resignation papers will be signed. Too much independence and open discontent with the superiors are not favored in the administrative sphere. In the meantime, Baluyevsky had not been seen in public for several weeks now. His responsibilities were carried out by the recent presidential advisor on military-technical issues and currently first deputy chief of the General Staff Burutin.

Incidentally, this decision was criticized in letters to the president by high-level admirals and heroes of the Soviet Union, including the former commanders-in-chief and heads of the navy's headquarters. Open discontent with decisions of superiors is not accepted in the military environment, and a resignation tender is only natural.

The argument in favor of the conclusion that military reform became a priority of the defence policy of the President Dmitri Medvedev since he took office in May 2008 was cadre policy [ie, personnel], which Serdyukov conducted in the Ministry, which he controlled since June of 2008. His purpose became to weaken the opposition inside “Arbat military district” [the Ministry of Defense and General Staff building is on Arbat Street]. So, on June 3, 2008 the Chief of General Staff, General of the Army Yuri Baluyevsky was forced to resign. Baluyevsky had been the center of consolidation of the so-called “generals’ opposition”, which united upper management of AF dissatisfied with prospects of possible reforms.

On 03 June 2008 Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedev made personnel changes in the leadership of the Russian Armed Forces. Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Makarov was appointed Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. Yury Baluyevsky, who previously held this position, was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council. Baluyevsky had held the post and that of first deputy defence minister since 2004.

The replacement came after months of rumors that Baluyevsky would resign over his vehement opposition to Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's plans for reforming the armed forces and army staff reshuffles. The head of state made these new appointments public at a meeting with Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, Yury Baluyevsky and Nikolai Makarov. The President also signed a decree awarding Yury Baluyevsky the order For Services to the Fatherland II degree.




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