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Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov

Marshal of Aviation Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov was the Soviet defense minister and later the supreme commander of the Commonwealth of Independent. States [CIS] Armed Forces.

Shaposhnikov was born in Rostov Oblast in 1942. His father died at the front in 1945. Apparently he was not related to Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (WPRA) [RKKA] Chief of Staff Boris Shaposhnikov (1928-31 and 1941-42 Chief of the General Staff of the WPRA). He should not be confused with the Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov who was deputy minister of the Shipbuilding Industry of the USSR in the 1980s.

He had a large family, so that he later said " ... as much as I recall myself in childhood, we were accomplishing one task — survival. Mother brought us four children up alone. I well remember the "ration" of 400 grams of bread which was given per family per day. Our generation did not know what free pastimes were. Beginning with first grade, all vacations were dedicated to working at the construction site or on the kolkhoz, or unloading railcars.

"I entered aviation in the footsteps of my older brother, who entered the Kharkov School, at that time still a school for navigators, but I chose the profession of pilot. After finishing school I served in various garrisons and went through all positions. At one time I was in political work, which gave me a very great deal with respect to interworking with people. I finished the General Staff Academy..."

Interviewed in August 1990, Colonel General of Aviation Yevgeniy Ivanovich Shaposhnikov, CinC Air Force said: "This year has been especially difficult for the Air Force. Accomplishment of our traditional missions involving combat readiness and flight safety has been complicated by the withdrawal of forces from Eastern Europe. Therefore the situation immediately became aggravated in the social-everyday sphere. Judge for yourself: 6,000 pilots now have no apartments, and a total of some 40,000 aviators have not been provided housing. There will be even more homeless defenders of the homeland with the relocation of forces."

Soviet military assessments of the Gulf war focused on the role of surprise as the key to victory in modern warfare. According to Defense Minister Shaposhnikov, the Gulf war demonstrated that air power is the "main means" of achieving surprise--now said to be the decisive factor in determining both the course and the outcome of the war.

Shaposhnikov, was commander of Soviet Air Forces before the unsuccessful putsch in Moscow. On the whole the generals who participted in the August 1991 coup attempt were reactionaries - Yazarov, Varennikov, and Akhromeyev - were one of the driving forces behind the coup. When the new defense minister, General Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov, picked up the telephone he found only one general loyal to the constitution — Pavel Grachev, later appointed Minister of Defense in 1992.

A chasm opened up between the leaders of the old nomenklatura, the leaders of the putschists, and the leaders of the democrats. Some betrayed their leader and others remained loyal to their leader and to the law in the most difficult hours of the ordeal. This unerringly symbolized two worlds: A world that was departing, and a world that was arriving. During these three days, a lot fell into place. Including what the system of barracks socialism was really like. In November 1992, Air Marshal Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov, said of the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Baltic states: "we, too, would like the troops to be withdrawn, and the Baltic states also want the troops to be withdrawn, but they must be withdrawn in a civilized manner, without humiliating the honor and dignity of the troops who are on the territory of the Baltic states. They are not occupiers, they have nothing to answer to the peoples of the Baltic states for, and there is no reason for certain Baltic leaders to stir up trouble over this issue."

Shaposhnikov was acting commander in chief of the Commonwealth forces until 30 December 1992 — until the Minsk meeting of heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Shaposhnikov held talks and consultations with the leaders of each member state with a view to working out a joint stand on the ways to monitor conventional armed forces and exercise their right to create armed forces of their own.

In July 1993 the briefcase containing the "nuclear button" was removed from Marshal of Aviation Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov's office. As a result the levers of Strategic Forces command and control passed to the complete and undivided possession of the Russian minister of defense. In the flurry of events of differing significance the incident of the complete "privatization" of the nuclear button had gone almost unnoticed by the public and had not given rise to any serious objections from the CIS member states. In mid-1993 the president of the Russian Federation named Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov to the post of secretary of the Security Council. The Council of Defense Ministers proposed abolishing the position of commander-in-chief of the Unified Armed Forces and introducing the position of chief of joint staff for coordination of military cooperation among Commonwealth states.

In June 1994 Former Marshal Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov criticized Russia's joining Partnership for Peace [PFP], asking "How can we be satisfied with the expansion and strengthening of the NATO military bloc when we, the Russians, have made concessions beyond anything that the international community could have imagined!" Shaposhnikov said he was still in favor of cooperation with the West but "this cooperation has started badly" and "bears the stamp of an extremely dangerous imbalance." In 1995 Marshal Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov (retired, former defense minister) was a leading figure in the Russian Democratic Reforms Movement (RDRM), but he said he would not run for a seat in the Duma and would remain at the head of the Rosvooruzheniye company.

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Page last modified: 16-01-2016 18:15:44 ZULU