The news that a bill on martial law-time regulation of tax legal relations was submitted to Russia’s State Duma last week has triggered a mixed reaction in social networking sites. In particular, the bill also provides for granting more powers to the president of Russia in order to strengthen state security and create conditions for repulsing or preventing aggression against Russia.
“We can assume that mobilization-type governance is the making,” says Moscow-based journalist Dmitry Shusharin in Facebook. “The only question is under what pretext. This will need either a protracted war (Georgia can be crushed in a day) or domestic destabilizations – Polish-type martial law.” He adds there can be two variants of developments: “declaring war on Ukraine or a large-scale provocation inside the country. Even a terrorist act won’t do, for a counter-terrorist operation regime will be enough in this case. This must be something very serious and mass-scale.”
It was also reported the other day that Russia would set up the National Defense Center (NDC) in 2014. In wartime, it will perform the function of the supreme command headquarters. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, this organization will consist of three components: the Strategic Nuclear Force Command Center, the Combat Control Center, and the Armed Forces Routine Control Center. The online publication Vzgliad also quotes Shoigu as saying that the Center will oversee the activities of not only the armed forces, but also the police and security units.
The Russian military expert Aleksandr GOLTZ believes that this course of events “is not very serious in the current situation.” “The mobilization-type scenario of governance is called so because it cannot last very long. If somebody seriously thinks that a marked economy country can be managed in a mobilization mode for a long time, they are mistaken. In general, I can see no connection between this draft law and Ukraine,” the expert told The Day. He also added that this initiative only shows that “somebody has begun to deal with Russia’s mobilization problems, in which there are a lot of questionable points.”
As for the establishment of the NDC, Mr. Goltz believes that “this reinforces the position of Shoigu.” “It is he who will coordinate the actions of various agencies in the defense of Russia. All this has a very long history. This question was raised in the mid-1990s, but no agreement was reached. But while it was just a theory at the time, now it is more or less clear that agencies will be subordinate to Shoigu in emergency situations,” Goltz said.
At the same time, Valentyn BADRAK, director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, does not think that it is in the interests of today’s “military-political leadership of Russia to unfurl a military campaign against Ukraine.” “Russia has today a far greater number of nonmilitary instruments to exert pressure on Ukraine – in terms of energy, information, and even military-technical and technological cooperation, – which we can see on the example of our aviation industry which Russia in fact wants to eliminate. In this case, it is extremely undesirable for the Kremlin to create a real military threat to Ukraine,” Mr. Badrak points out. In his words, this will only put an end to the disunity that allegedly exists between the eastern and western regions [of Ukraine]. “Secondly, this can stir up a new outburst of anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine. It will be senseless to speak about any unification processes after this kind of actions. So I don’t think it is about a military campaign. By all accounts, this may be linked to domestic affairs,” the expert says. In his opinion, Russia has enough problems to tackle in addition to Ukraine – for example, the situation in the Caucasus and the Far East. “In all probability, it is a new attempt to improve control over the Russian army by means of applying information technologies and establishing a unified computerized control system,” Badrak concludes.