Ministry of Defence (Russia)

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
Министерство обороны Российской Федерации

Ministry emblem

Official flag

A building of the ministry in Khamovniki District
Agency overview
Formed 1717 as College of War
Preceding agencies
  • Ministry of Defence of the Soviet Union (1946–1991)
  • People's Commissariat of Defence of the Soviet Union (1934–1946)
  • Ministry of War of the Russian Empire (1802–1917)
  • College of War (1717–1802)
Jurisdiction President of Russia
Headquarters Znamenka 19, Moscow, Russia[1]
55°44′56″N 37°36′8″E / 55.74889°N 37.60222°E / 55.74889; 37.60222Coordinates: 55°44′56″N 37°36′8″E / 55.74889°N 37.60222°E / 55.74889; 37.60222
Annual budget US$ 69.3 billion (2014)
Minister responsible
Child agency
  • Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation
    Federal Service for Technical and Export Control
    Federal Service for Defence Contracts
    Federal Agency for Special Construction
    Federal Agency for the supply of arms, military and special equipment and material supplies

The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation (Russian: Министерство обороны Российской Федерации, Минобороны России, informally abbreviated as МО or МО РФ) exercises administrative and operational leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

The Russian Minister of Defence is the nominal head of all the Armed Forces, serving under the president of the Russian Federation, who is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In this capacity, the minister exercises day-to-day administrative and operational authority over the armed forces. The General Staff, the executive body of the Ministry of Defence, implements the defence minister's operational instructions and orders. The State Duma exercises legislative authority over the Ministry of Defence through the Government of Russia, which is nominally responsible for maintaining the armed forces at the appropriate level of readiness.

The main ministry building, built in the 1980s, is located on Arbatskaya Square, near Arbat Street. Other buildings of the ministry are located throughout the city of Moscow. The high supreme body that responsible for the Ministry's management and supervision of the Armed Forces is The National Defense Management Center (Национальный центр управления обороной РФ) which located in Frunze Naberezhnaya and responsible for centralization of the Armed Forces' command.

The current Russian minister of Defence is Sergey Shoygu.


Lobanov-Rostovsky Palace, Former Defense Ministry building.

The authors of the U.S. Library of Congress Country Studies' volume for Russia said in July 1996 that:

The structure of the Russian Defense Ministry does not imply military subordination to civilian authority in the Western sense.[2] The historical tradition of military command is considerably different in Russia. The tsars were educated as officers, and they regularly wore military uniforms and held military rank. Josef Stalin in his later years in power frequently wore a military uniform, and he assumed the title Generalissimo of the Soviet Union. Likewise, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was named Marshal of the Soviet Union. By tradition dating back to the tsars, the Minister of Defense was a uniformed officer,' with military background (Dmitry Milyutin, Rodion Malinovsky) or without (Dmitriy Ustinov). The State Duma also seats a large number of deputies who are active-duty military officers—another tradition that began in the Russian imperial era. These combinations of military and civilian authority ensure that military concerns are considered at the highest levels of the Russian government.

Russian Federation

In May 1992, President of Russia Boris Yeltsin appointed General of the Army Pavel Grachev to the post of Minister of Defence. Grachev's decision to side with Yeltsin in the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, when the president called up tanks to shell the Russian White House to blast his opponents out of parliament, effectively deprived the Supreme Soviet of Russia of its nominal an opportunity to overturn the president's authority. At least partly for that reason, Yeltsin retained his defence minister despite intense criticism of Grachev's management of the First Chechen War and the Russian military establishment in general. Finally, Yeltsin's victory in the first round of the 1996 Russian presidential election spurred Yeltsin to dismiss Grachev.

In March 2001, Sergei Ivanov, previously secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation was appointed defence minister by President Vladimir Putin, becoming Russia's first non-uniformed civilian defence minister.[3] Putin called the personnel changes in Russia's security structures coinciding with Ivanov's appointment as defence minister "a step toward demilitarizing public life." Putin also stressed Ivanov's responsibility for overseeing military reform as defence minister. What Putin did not emphasise was Ivanov's long service within the KGB and FSB and his then rank of General-Lieutenant within the FSB. Such military and security agency associated men are known as siloviki.

As of 2002 there were four living Marshals of the Soviet Union. Such men are automatically Advisors to the Defence Minister. The Marshals alive at that time were Viktor Kulikov, Vasily Petrov, Sergei Sokolov, a former Minister of Defence of the Soviet Union, and Dmitri Yazov. Yazov was listed by the American analysts Scott and Scott in 2002 as a consultant to the (former 10th) Directorate for International Military Cooperation[4]

Perhaps the first 'real' non-uniformed Defence Minister was Anatoliy Serdyukov, appointed in February 2007. Serdyukov was a former Tax Minister with little siloviki or military associations beyond his two years' military service.


The Ministry of Defence is managed by a collegium chaired by the Defence Minister and including the deputy Defence Ministers, heads of Main Defence Ministry and General Staff Directorates, and the commanders of the Joint Strategic Commands/Military Districts, the three Services, and three branches, who together form the principal staff and advisory board of the Minister of Defence.

The executive body of the Ministry of Defence is the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. It is commanded by the Chief of General Staff. U.S. expert William Odom said in 1998 that 'the Soviet General Staff without the MoD is conceivable, but the MoD without the General Staff is not.'[5] Russian General Staff officers exercise command authority in their own right. In 1996 the General Staff included fifteen main directorates and an undetermined number of operating agencies. The staff is organized by functions, with each directorate and operating agency overseeing a functional area, generally indicated by the organization's title.

Military Thought is the military-theoretical journal of the Ministry of Defence, and Krasnaya Zvezda its daily newspaper.

Structure 2014

Senior staff in 2014 included:[6]

Entities directly subordinated to the Minister of Defence in August 2012 included:[6]

  • MOD Press Service and Information Directorate
  • MOD Physical Training Directorate
  • MOD Financial Auditing Inspectorate
  • MOD Main Military Medical Directorate
  • MOD State Order Placement Department
  • MOD Property Relations Department
  • Expert Center of the MOD Staff
  • MOD Administration Directorate
  • MOD State Defence Order Facilitation Department
  • MOD Department of the State Customer for Capital Construction
  • MOD State Architectural-Construction Oversight Department
  • MOD Sanatoria-resort Support Department
  • MOD Housekeeping Directorate

  • MOD State Review/Study Group
  • MOD Educational Department
  • MOD Legal Department
  • MOD Organizational-inspection Department
  • MOD Personnel Inspectorate
  • MOD Military Inspectorate
  • MOD State Technical Oversight Directorate
  • MOD Aviation Flight Safety Service
  • MOD Nuclear and Radiation Safety Oversight Directorate
  • MOD Autotransport Directorate
  • MOD Staff Protocol Department
  • MOD Armed Force Weapons Turnover Oversight Service
  • MOD Main Military Police Directorate

Outline structure 2004

An outline structure of the Ministry of Defence includes the groupings below, but this structure was in transition when it was recorded in 2004, with several deputy minister posts being abolished:[7]

  • Army General Nikolay Pankov, State Secretary – Deputy Min. of Defence[8]
    • Liaison with Political Power Institutions
    • [Main] Directorate for Indoctrination [Political Work, Morale]
    • [Main] Directorate for International Military Cooperation
    • Directorate for Military Education of the Ministry of Defence
    • Directorate of Foreign Relations
    • Directorate of Force Management & Security of Military Service
    • Directorate of Ecology & Special Means of Protection Min Def RF
    • Press Service of the Ministry of Defence
    • Flight Safety Service of Aviation of the Armed Forces RF
  • Deputy Minister of Defence – Chief of Rear of the Armed Forces
    • Military medical, trade, transportation, food, clothing, etc.
  • Deputy Minister of Defence – Chief of Armaments of the Armed Forces
  • Deputy Minister of Defence – Chief of Construction and Billeting Service
    • Main Military Construction Directorate
    • Main Quarters Exploitation Directorate
    • other Directorates, departments etc.
  • Lyubov Kudelina, Deputy Minister of Defence for Financial-Economic Work
    • Financial-Economic Section of the MOD
    • Directorate of Military-Economic Analysis and Expertise
    • Financial Inspectorate of the MOD
    • Federation of Trade Unions for Civilian Workers of the Armed Forces
  • Deputy Minister of Defence – Chief of the Main Department of Cadres [personnel]
    • military schools, military academies, etc.

List of Ministers of Defence

For Ministers of Defence of the Soviet Union, predecessor of modern Russia, see Minister of Defence (Soviet Union).

Marshal of Aviation Yevgeny Shaposhnikov was the last Minister of Defence of the Soviet Union. General Colonel Konstantin Kobets supported then President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Boris Yeltsin during the August coup of 1991. From 19 August until 9 September 1991, Konstantin Kobets was Defense Minister of the RSFSR, though there was no ministry.[9] This post was then abolished.

The first Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation was Boris Yeltsin, who appointed himself to the position by a decree of mid March 1992.[10]

  Denotes acting Minister of Defence
# Picture Name Military rank Took office Left office President served under
1 Konstantin Kobets Colonel General
General of the Army
20 August 1991 9 September 1991 Boris Yeltsin
Between 9 September 1991 and 7 May 1992 the Russian Federation de jure didn't have its own Minister of Defence. During this period its armed forces were under control of Minister of Defence of the Soviet Union Yevgeny Shaposhnikov.
Boris Yeltsin No military rank 16 March 1992 18 May 1992 Himself
2 Pavel Grachev General of the Army 18 May 1992 18 June 1996 Boris Yeltsin
Mikhail Kolesnikov General of the Army 18 June 1996 17 July 1996
3 Igor Rodionov Colonel General
General of the Army
General of the Army in reserve
17 July 1996 22 May 1997
4 Igor Sergeyev Marshal of the Russian Federation 22 May 1997 28 March 2001 Boris Yeltsin
Vladimir Putin
5 Sergei Ivanov FSB Colonel General in reserve 28 March 2001 15 February 2007 Vladimir Putin
6 Anatoly Serdyukov No military rank 15 February 2007 6 November 2012 Vladimir Putin
Dmitry Medvedev
Vladimir Putin

Sergey Shoygu General of the Army 6 November 2012 Present Vladimir Putin

See also


  1. RF MOS website accessed 9 August 2012.
  2. Library of Congress Country Studies Russia, Command Structure
  3. Peter Finn, Russian Leader Expands Powers of a Possible Successor, Washington Post, 16 February 2007.
  4. Harriet F. Scott and William Scott, Russian Military Directory 2002, p. 341, citing DS2002-0802.
  5. William Eldridge Odom, 'The Collapse of the Soviet Military,' Yale University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-300-08271-1, p. 27.
  6. 1 2 RF MOD website accessed 13 May 2014.
  7. H.F. Scott & William F. Scott, Russian Military Directory 2004, pp. 61–82, 97–116.
  8. State Secretary, Deputy Minister of Defence, Russian Ministry of Defence, accessed May 2008.
  9. Vladimir Orlov, Roland Timerbaev, and Anton Khlopkov, Nuclear Nonproliferation in U.S.-Russian Relations: Challenges and opportunities, PIR Library Series, 2002, p. 24. Accessed at 7 June 2010.
  10. Odom, 1998, p. 385.
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