The Russian Ministry of Defense started massive infrastructure renewal

The Russian army is building  more than 2 thousand of infrastructure objects at the same time. The buildings are at the border with Ukraine, the North Caucasus and the Arctic.
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Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Timur Ivanov said that the volume of construction of military facilities today is comparable to the post-war period. As reported, more than 2 thousand special or social objects are currently being built. What exactly is built by the military department and whether there is such a strong need to invest in sometimes controversial projects in times of crisis?

As the military says, today there is a nationwide almost complete renewal of the military infrastructure. Just in 2016, more than 2,500 buildings and objects with a total area of 2.7 million square meters was built. New radar stations, waterworks, airports, medical facilities, residential buildings, schools and kindergartens, cadet schools, military camps, landfills and marinas. One of the most successful objects was the construction of a submarine base for the Pacific Fleet: Vilyuchinsk is being prepared to get berthing and coastal engineering infrastructure to harbor submarines of Project 955 "Borey".

On the Black Sea, Novorossiysk built waterfront for project 636 submarines. The Southern Military District saw equipping cantonments for two "Iskander-M" missile brigades completed. The infrastructure of the first regiments of the Strategic Missile Forces, equipped with Yars mobile and stationary missile systems was commissioned; equipping of a missile brigade in Shuya finished. In addition, in just five months the Tula Suvorov Military School was built from scratch and the construction of Petrozavodsk Presidential Cadet School started.

Military build towns on the border with Ukraine, and in the Arctic

Much attention is drawn to the construction of military camps near the border with Ukraine. For example, in Belgorod, 25 kilometers from the border with the Luhansk region of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence is building a new army complex: nine barracks, storage facilities for missile and artillery weapons and other munitions, as well as educational and medical centers. A motorized rifle brigade will be relocated there. Then, there is a construction of a military base in Boguchar, Voronezh region, to accommodate another motorized rifle brigade. In addition, in 2016 plans were announced for the formation of three more new motorized infantry divisions, which would be stationed in the Voronezh, Smolensk and Rostov regions.

Gaining momentum is seen not only in the south but also in the northern borders. Late last year, the Ministry of Defense reported that the construction of administrative and residential complex in the first Arctic closed-loop military camp on the Kotelny Island was nearing completion. In the future, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to build five more comfortable military camps in the Arctic. The cost of each of these objects is more than 4 billion rubles. It is also planned to restore a network of polar airfields": in Naryan-Mar, Alykel, Amderma, Anadyr, Rogachevo, Nagurskaya and Tiksi.

Indeed, the volume of construction in the interests of the Armed Forces is now significantly increased, but the words of the unprecedented success should be treated with some caution. The scope of work that was carried out by the militar construction units in the Soviet Union, was significantly higher. So, perhaps, the statement of Timur Ivanov, the former head of Oboronstroy, was made to create a positive image.

Nevertheless, recent events suggest that the Defense Ministry is returned to a situation where the military itself was responsible for the military construction; that is, earlier decisions by Anatoly Serdyukov are now subjected to a serious correction. So, at the end of 2016 Spetsstroy functions were transferred to the War Department, and now other organizations responsible for the construction in the interests of the Armed Forces are being submitted to the Ministry of Defense. To do this, the legal basis is being gradually changed: for example, joint-stock companies are transformed into state-owned enterprises. Apparently, the Defense Ministry came to the conclusion that it is the only way to carry out quality control. It creates a single military building complex, the system becomes more centralized, and there are officials directly responsible for certain tasks.

Big problems for big projects

Unfortunately, a significant amount of construction requires the use of a variety of subcontractors. The work of some of them is accompanied by frequent corruption cases. Another problem in the construction is the backlog of deadlines. The military complains of unscrupulous contractors who delay deadlines. A typical example might be the situation in the construction of military camps on the islands of Iturup and Kunashir, the Kuril chain. This major work was carried out not by private companies, but by Spetsstroy, which built military positions, training grounds, munitions and equipment storage areas on the islands. The last year, a number of Spetsstroy officials was detained on charges of embezzling 450 million rubles in the construction and renovation of nine sites. The total area of buildings on the islands will be more than 260 thousand square meters, of which 140 thousand square meters on Iturup, and more than 121 thousand square meters on Iturup. Earlier, Spetsstroy, which is not controlled by the Ministry of Defense, already disgraced itself at the Vostochny cosmodrome construction. Then Roskosmos lost millions in bribes and money did not reach the workers.

Another resonant case of non-selective approach to the choice of the developer and the lack of control over its actions us the history of the construction of housing for servicemen in Moscow. The money received from the Ministry of Defense in 2011-2012 for the construction of four districts (about 70 billion rubles) was used by company SU-155 to implement commercial projects. Under the contract, all new buildings must have been prepared under the settlement back in 2014, but work was not completed.

The amount of unearned advance amounted to 18 billion rubles. Because of problems with the unscrupulous contractor, the process of housing for military personnel, which were allocated housing in Moscow, delayed for many years. To recover the amount of unearned advance from SU-155 is very problematic. As a result, the situation has led to the fact that the officers organized themselves into a group of "homeless regiment" and regularly conduct massive rallies demanding to complete construction.

But in addition to problems with contractors, in times of crisis the people wonder about the necessity of image and patriotic-educational spending. For example, some were surprised with the Ministry of Defense's desire to spend 50 million rubles for the refurbishment of the Aysberg Palace of Sports in Sochi into the headquarters for the Winter Military World Games. From October 2015 to December 2016, the General Directorate of arrangement of troops on its own completed the construction of two metropolitan districts, which were not finished and abandoned by SU-155 in the Sinyavinskaya (15 high-rise buildings, 4731 apartments) and the Bolshaya Ochakovskaya (10 high-rise buildings, 1796 apartments) streets. There's a scheduled accomodation taking place. Also, four houses with 714 apartments in a new building on the Levoberezhnaya street and three with 652 apartments on the Polina Osipenko street near Horoshevskoe highway have been finished.

How the Ministry of Defence solves the "problem of SU-155"

The Ministry of Defence has developed a mechanism for obtaining additional financing for the completion of two metropolitan districts, located in the Levoberezhnaya street and Khoroshevskoye highway. For that, the Agency for Mortgage Lending will act as a government agent to realize the military department property.

At the end of 2012, a moratorium on the sale of real estate belonging to the Ministry of Defense was implemented. As a result, not a single square meter of housing or land was sold. Now, according to the law, the Ministry of Defence has the right to transfer the free (not used in the interests of the Armed Forces) land and buildings to the Agency for Mortgage Lending to involve them in economic turnover. In early February 2017, the General Directorate of arrangement of troops awaits the first tranche of the additional funding for the completion of two metropolitan districts by SU-155, which will resume active work at the sites.

During 2017, the military builders plan to complete the construction and installation works and phased commissioning of the 19 buildings with 5142 apartments in the capital. This will accomodate 85% soldiers and officers, who chose Moscow as their place of residence. The remaining officers awaiting apartments in the capital, would receive a housing subsidy. For that, the federal budget will 37.78 billion annually in 2017-2019.

From 2012 to the present time the number of servicemen in need of housing decreased by 2.8 times: from 82.4 thousand to 29.8 thousand men. And of 29.8 thousand, 9.8 thousand have been already offered an apartment, and 7.8 thousand agreed with the proposal. Since the autumn of 2012, when Sergey Shoigu became the Defense Minister, permanent housing was provided to 106 thousand men, of which 89 thousand received an apartment, and 17 thousand chose housing subsidies.