On amendments to the Law “On Defense”

On 9 November 2009, RF President D. Medvedev signed the amendments to the Law “On Defense”, whereby the powers of the Head of the State to operatively dispose of the RF Armed Forces abroad have been expanded. The Law was passed by the State Duma on 23 October and approved by the Council of the Federation on 30 October.

Bringing order into the activity of the State outside of its own territory is a good thing. But there are also some points to note.

The first point is that the adoption of the new Law happened only after the events of August 2008, when out inadequacies had been tested in action.

The second point is that the fundamental deficiency characterizing Russia’s Law “On Defense” since 31 May 1996 was not corrected. It was on this date that the previous wording of the Law was altered by removing fr om the notion of ‘defense’ any need for protecting ‘the population’. Then, only the task of protecting the territory and the inviolability of the borders was left. This was done in order to avoid any criticism for conducting combat operations in the territory of this country and targeting them at the civilian population of this country.

And the third point – the care of the military personnel. They are placed in a territory that has become ‘alien’ – as it happened at the sites wh ere the Black Sea Fleet was stationed, or in a territory under alien jurisdiction – as it was in South Osetia (and their placing there was absolutely correct and necessary!), but then they were left there without a proper status and without properly formalized documents (a military ID card cannot be used instead of a valid foreign passport), or without any possibility to realize some of their civil rights. Their withdrawal beyond the borders of the Russian Federation was not formalized in any documents. Later on, many of them sued their military ministry for it to properly recognize the fact of their sojourn abroad and participation in military actions.

V. I. Tsymbal – Doctor of Technical Sciences, Head of the Department for Military Economics