General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is the military staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are the military services of Russia, established after the break-up of the Soviet Union. On 7 May 1992 Boris Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the Russian Ministry of Defence and placing all Soviet Armed Forces troops on the territory of the RSFSR...

. It is the central organ of the Armed Forces Administration and oversees operational management of the armed forces under the Russian Ministry of Defence
Russian Ministry of Defence
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation exercises operational leadership of the armed forces of Russia.The Russian Minister of Defence is the nominal commander of all the armed forces, serving under the president of the Russian Federation, in whom executive authority over the military is...


The staff is organized by functions, with each directorate
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 and operating agency overseeing an area. Working with the staffs of each of the services, the Main Operations Directorate drafts plans for strategic operations for the Supreme High Command. When the headquarters of the Supreme High Command approves the plans, the General Staff issues them to operational commanders as Supreme High Command directives. The General Staff Academy
General Staff Academy (Russia)
The General Staff Academy of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation was founded in 1936 in Moscow by Leonid Govorov. It was the senior Soviet and now Russian professional school for officers....

 is responsible for training officers for the General Staff. The wartime command post for the General Staff is buried deep underground nearby Chekhov, Moscow Oblast
Chekhov, Moscow Oblast
Chekhov is a town and the administrative center of Chekhovsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia. Before 1954, it was named Lopasnya , after the Lopasnya River. Population: 56,000 ....

. The Chief of the General Staff
Chief of the General Staff (Russia)
The Chief of the General Staff is the chief of staff of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. He is appointed by the President of Russia, who is the commander-in-chief. The position dates to the period of the Russian Empire...

 is appointed by the President of Russia, who is the commander-in-chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the armed forces. The current Chief of the General Staff is General of the Army Nikolay Makarov.

General Staff is located in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 on Znamenka Street in the Arbat District. Together with the Ministry of Defence building and several Staff directorate office buildings nearby, it forms the so called "Arbat military district" as it is often referred to among the military personnel to outline the highest supreme command of the Russian Armed Forces.


In the Soviet Armed Forces
Soviet Armed Forces
The Soviet Armed Forces, also called the Armed Forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Armed Forces of the Soviet Union refers to the armed forces of the Russian SFSR , and Soviet Union from their beginnings in the...

, the Soviet General Staff acted as the main commanding and supervising body of the military. The Red Army Staff was first formed in 1921 but, historian John Erickson
John Erickson (historian)
John Erickson was a British historian who wrote extensively on the Second World War...

 says, until 1924 developed into an unwieldy grouping dealing with combat training, routine Red Army affairs, and defence policy, all without real definition Erickson dates the development of the Staff as the Soviet 'military brain' from Mikhail Frunze
Mikhail Frunze
Mikhail Vasilyevich Frunze was a Bolshevik leader during and just prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917.-Life and Political Activity:Frunze was born in Bishkek, then a small Imperial Russian garrison town in the Kyrgyz part of Turkestan, to a Moldovan medical practitioner and his Russian wife...

's appointment to the post of Chief of Staff by Order No.78 of 1 April 1924.'From this date.. the history of the Soviet General Staff - as it was to become - begins'.

On September 22, 1935, the authorities renamed the RKKA Staff as the General Staff, which essentially reincarnated the General Staff of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Many of the former RKKA Staff officers had served as General Staff officers in the Russian Empire and became General Staff officers in the USSR. General Staff officers typically had extensive combat experience and solid academic training.

William Odom wrote that 'during World War II [the General Staff] became Stalin's main organ for operational direction of all military forces. After the war it became the most powerful centre for virtually all aspects of military planning, operations, and determination of resource requirements. The minister of defence had only a limited staff for his own support, leaving him heavily dependent on the General Staff.'...'Within the Ministry of Defence, all the resource allocation issues were normally resolved by the chief of the General Staff before going to the minister, and finally, after consultation with GOSPLAN
Gosplan or State Planning Committee was the committee responsible for economic planning in the Soviet Union. The word "Gosplan" is an abbreviation for Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Planirovaniyu...

, to the Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...


During the Cold War, the General Staff maintained Soviet plans for the invasion of Western-Europe, whose massive scale was made known secretly to the West by spies such as Ryszard Kukliński
Ryszard Kuklinski
Ryszard Jerzy Kukliński was a Polish colonel, Cold War spy and whistleblower. He passed top secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA between 1971 and 1981...

 and later published by German researchers working upon the National People's Army
National People's Army
The National People’s Army were the armed forces of the German Democratic Republic .The NVA was established in 1956 and disestablished in 1990. There were frequent reports of East German advisors with Communist African countries during the Cold War...


After the first Chechen war began, the government, in the person of Boris Yeltsin, began to encourage the General Staff’s participation in the direct leadership of military actions. Moreover, on 11 January 1995 at a meeting between Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin and the Chairmen of the Chambers of the Federal Assembly
Federal Assembly of Russia
The Federal Assembly of Russia is the legislature of the Russian Federation, according to the Constitution of Russian Federation, 1993...

, Vladimir Shumeyko
Vladimir Shumeyko
Vladimir Filippovich Shumeyko is a Russian political figure.In November 1991, Vladimir Shumeyko was appointed chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation. In May of 1992, Shumeyko, leading a parliamentary delegation, visited Damascus...

 and Ivan Rybkin
Ivan Rybkin
Ivan Petrovich Rybkin is a Russian politician; was Chairman of Russia's State Duma in 1994–96 and Secretary of the Security Council in 1996–98.-Early life:...

, President Yeltsin announced his intention to pull the General Staff completely out of the Defense Ministry and attach it directly to himself. Yeltsin never implemented his plan, possibly because at that time the General Staff was headed by General Mikhail Kolesnikov, a modest person who respected official subordination, or possibly because he did not find the right person for the job. It is very difficult to judge the motives behind Yeltsin’s actions. In any case, this proposal apparently did not win much support in military circles.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 and especially since 2004 the General Staff and the Russian Ministry of Defence
Russian Ministry of Defence
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation exercises operational leadership of the armed forces of Russia.The Russian Minister of Defence is the nominal commander of all the armed forces, serving under the president of the Russian Federation, in whom executive authority over the military is...

 have attempted to divide direction of the armed forces between them, often in intense bouts of bureaucratic disagreement. It has been reported that the General Staff's main role now is that of the Russian Ministry of Defence's department of strategic planning, and the Minister of Defence himself is now gaining executive authority over the troops. However some Russian commentators dispute this.

Main Directorates

  • Armaments
    A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

    : Liaison with defense industry
    Defense industry
    The defense industry, also called the military industry, comprises government and commercial industry involved in research, development, production, and service of military materiel, equipment and facilities...

    /military-industrial complex
    Military-industrial complex
    Military–industrial complex , or Military–industrial-congressional complex is a concept commonly used to refer to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them...

  • Armor
    Armoured warfare
    Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

     Staff: supervision of maintenance and modernization of combat vehicles
    Armoured fighting vehicle
    An armoured fighting vehicle is a combat vehicle, protected by strong armour and armed with weapons. AFVs can be wheeled or tracked....

  • Artillery
    Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

     Staff: supervision of maintenance and modernization of weapons
  • Billet
    A billet is a term for living quarters to which a soldier is assigned to sleep. Historically, it referred to a private dwelling that was required to accept the soldier....

    ing and Maintenance: Maintenance and operation of military facilities
    Military base
    A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. In general, a military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a...

     and barracks
    Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

  • Cadres- Management of careers of professional military officers and warrant officers
  • Construction
    In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

    - Supervision of funding and resources for new military construction
  • Construction Industry of Ministry of Defense- Supervision of classified
    Classified information
    Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular groups of persons. A formal security clearance is required to handle classified documents or access classified data. The clearance process requires a satisfactory background investigation...

     construction projects.
  • Education
    Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

    - Education and training of cadres and specialists
  • Foreign Relations
    Foreign policy
    A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

    - Direction of military aid
    Military aid
    Military aid is aid which is used to assist an ally in its defense efforts, or to assist a poor country in maintaining control over its own territory. Many countries receive military aid to help with counter-insurgency efforts...

     programs and military attaché
    Military attaché
    A military attaché is a military expert who is attached to a diplomatic mission . This post is normally filled by a high-ranking military officer who retains the commission while serving in an embassy...

  • Main Intelligence Directorate
    GRU or Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye is the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation...

     - successor to the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU); military intelligence
    Military intelligence
    Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

  • Military Counterintelligence- counter-intelligence
    Counterintelligence or counter-intelligence refers to efforts made by intelligence organizations to prevent hostile or enemy intelligence organizations from successfully gathering and collecting intelligence against them. National intelligence programs, and, by extension, the overall defenses of...

  • Motor Vehicles
    Motor vehicle
    A motor vehicle or road vehicle is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle that does not operate on rails, such as trains or trolleys. The vehicle propulsion is provided by an engine or motor, usually by an internal combustion engine, or an electric motor, or some combination of the two, such as hybrid...

    - Supervision of maintenance and modernization of wheeled vehicles
  • Organization- Development and dissemination of mobilization
    Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

     plans for national emergencies
  • Personnel Work- Successor to Soviet political office, for management of enlisted personnel
  • Trade- Foreign military sales
    Foreign Military Sales
    The U.S. Department of Defense's Foreign Military Sales program facilitates sales of U.S. arms, defense equipment, defense services, and military training to foreign governments...

  • 8th Directorate- Information security
    Information security
    Information security means protecting information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, perusal, inspection, recording or destruction....

  • 10th Directorate
  • formerly in GS AF RF 12th Main Directorate - Nuclear weapon
    Nuclear weapon
    A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

    s management
  • 15th Main Directorate - Biological weapons
    Biological warfare
    Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

  • 16th Directorate

War time headquarters

According to, Chekhov and the nearby Sharapovo were constructed in the late 1950s, and underwent modernization and expansion beginning in the early 1970s. Although these two installations may constitute one interrelated complex, the US intelligence community believes that the facilities at Sharapovo are probably for the wartime Defense Council and those at Chekhov for the General Staff. According to a 1983 US intelligence assessment, the deep underground facilities at these complexes for the National Command Authority are "harder, deeper and much less vulnerable than previously estimated".

Further reading

  • Захаров М.В. Генеральный штаб в предвоенные годы. — М.: Воениздат, 1989

Zakharov, M.V. General Staff in the pre-war years, Moscow, Voenizdat., 1989 (chapter 6)

External links

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