AK74M Kalashnikovs were left off the state's arms purchases, along with T-90A tanks and, as reports have it, the UAZ-3151, or Kozel, all-terrain vehicle. The same steps were taken under Peter the Great, who rid the country's military of harquebusiers, battle-axes, unicorn cannons and the bold cavalry of the noble militia. Dissenters, such as archers, lost their heads, possessions and summer homes, as is customary in Russia.
Putin has given the order to transform the army into a modern western-like machine, although the while make the weapons for it in Russia, even if doing so involved copying foreign templates for them. The prime minister is promising 3 trillion roubles in state money to the military-industrial complex by 2020 retooling and modernisation, and another 20 trillion for procuring equipment with a minimum cost-efficiency of 15 per cent.
After having received this “colossal amount of money”, as Putin put it, all-inclusive modernisation needs to be carried out and modern-arms production needs to be established. The prime minister is confident that such an exorbitant increase in military spending will not bankrupt the country. In fact, he believes it will make the country rich, because not only will the army be retooled and revamped, but “the overall technological level of production in the economy’s real sector will also increase, while a significant part of this equipment will be meant for manufacturing civilian goods”. Putin claims this to be “common truth for all countries in all times”.
It seems as though our leader read about this in his youth, while now things are different. In the modern world, the military-industrial complex has account for a sliver of production volume compared to the high-technology civilian sector. Where there is more profit and market volume is where you have capital and the most talented people. Now, technology and break-through ideas, especially in the ever more important real-time processing and transfer of large volumes of information, more often than not flow from the civilian sphere to the military-industrial complex, not the other way around. Russia, however, continues to chase its long-held dream of having capital investments in missiles and tanks be converted into new miracle computers and flimflam appliances.
Dreams are just that, but anyone who has ever ridden in a Kozel military SUV would agree that there needs to be something better. Especially in the areas where insurgents are active, with armour plating the bottom sides of the vehicle and other protective features against roadside remote-control mines.
The 7.62 calibre AKM produced in mass in the fifties and sixties was truly a legendary weapon. The AK74 and AK74M prove only to bring clumsy modernisation to the military, first and foremost because of the ill-fated 5.45mm calibre cartridge. The Ministry of Defence of course does not want to procure additional sets of AK74 and is demanding new weapons that are lighter and have an overall increased firing accuracy. Arms producers are promising to quickly come up with what the Ministry is asking for, but doing so is impossible for the 5.45mm calibre that the latter already has. Moreover, Russia does not manufacture anything in terms of ballistics that is comparable to modern western specimens of NATO’s chief 5.56mm calibre.
And that’s how things go as far as everything is concerned: Soviet arms are unpretentious and cheap, and they come in handy wherever new solders were being churned out. Now, Russia’s Soviet-born arms are being bought first and foremost by third-world countries with high birth rates: Iran, India, Algeria, Venezuela, etc. The Kremlin has finally realised that the country will not be churning out new solders as much as it used to. This means it will have to save the ones it already has, which Russia has never done before, be it peace or war time; however, such an unprecedented revolution will require changing virtually all the arms and munitions, not just the AK47 and the Kozel SUV, which our military industrial complex neither technically nor morally is capable of doing. It just may be that we will be forced to do what was done to the archers, followed by transporting in boat loads of Germans; Putin, just as Peter the Great did, is a big fan of Germany.