Russian Military's Decline
Leaves Its Commanders
Bristling Mad
From Correspondent Steve Harrigan
MOSCOW (CNN) -- Amid the crisis in Yugoslavia, Russia's Black Sea fleet is firing everything it has in war exercises, which are designed to show Russia's navy is still ready for battle.
"We are prepared for war," said Adm. Viktor Kravchenko. "However many ships they ask for, that's how many they'll get."
But most of the warships in the fleet are 30 years old. Instead of computers, they are equipped with pens and paper, and run by manual labor.
"For 10 years, there has been almost no money spent on new technology," said military analyst Sergei Sokut. "So in areas like computer-guided weapons systems, we have gotten very weak."
That weakness has some Russian military commanders bristling with anger - both at their role as bystanders in the Yugoslav conflict and at perceived snubs from their counterparts in the West.
Possible Russian military budget cuts include scaling back meals
It has also led to calls for a rethinking of Russia's military doctrine, with the possibility of modernizing or rebuilding part of its nuclear arsenal.
"Nuclear forces have been and remain a key element for our national security and military might," said President Boris Yeltsin.
Because Yeltsin has said no warships will be sent to the Adriatic Sea during the Yugoslav conflict, sailors in the Black Sea fleet are out of harm's way for now.
But they must subsist on a meager diet of buckwheat, beets and black bread. And with some units considering cutting back from three meals a day to two, finding money in the budget for weapons systems won't be easy.