Shoigu is said to love making headlines, and is no small timer in Russian media himself. He’s positioned himself well, so when aircraft of the naval aviation of the Black Sea Fleet finally completed the simulated destruction of the detachment of combat ships of the target (the US), he knew the US was paying close attention. At least that’s how one of Russia’s favorite online daily’s, Politnavigator, has spun an otherwise rather banal story. The press service of the Black Sea Fleet announced:
“Multifunctional fighters SU-30SM performed a combat exercise to apply a bomb strike against a marine target, which was used as a small-sized target ship, which significantly complicated the task of its destruction. The pilots of the Naval Aviation successfully coped with the task set for the destruction of the conventional enemy, “the report said.
According to the source, Politnavigator, the Black Sea Fleet additionally conducted a drill to repel the raid of unmanned aerial vehicles on the zones basing naval aviation.
According to the politnavigator report:
“According to the plan of the exercise, means of tracking the air situation revealed unknown aircraft, following the course in the areas of air fleet aviation.
According to the parameters obtained from ground stations, air targets are identified as unmanned aerial vehicles of the conventional enemy.
“The ground-based anti-aircraft defense equipment was alerted to alertness, the duty unit of the Su-30SM multifunctional fighters was raised to the sky. After receiving target designations from radar stations, the pilots intercepted and destroyed the UAV of the conventional enemy.
For the purpose of complex development of several variants of air defense, UAV operators used various directions and echelons of heights to approach ground targets.
The exercise involved up to 10 aircraft of the Black Sea Fleet naval aviation and about 10 unmanned aerial vehicles of various classes, ” the report said.”
See, that’s all there really was to the story. The original title roughly in English as ‘Shoigu conveyed greetings to Americans, scurrying around the Crimea‘ wasn’t really justified. However, what is curious is how the drills of the Black Sea Fleet tie us back to Shoigu. They really don’t, outside of the fact that as Minister of Defense and General of the Army, these drills are ultimately carried out in some fashion under his discretion. Ultimately this shows us something about Shoigu’s relationship with Russian media, as Politnavigator is a reasonable popular Russian site which FRN has translated from for a number of years now.
It is interesting to note the personification of Shoigu as the military itself, is similar to how Lavrov the man is the personification of Russia’s foreign ministry. Shoigu is said to be very conscious of his image in the Russian public. Besides his military roles, he’s also a seasoned politician, and understands the ins and outs of polls and political positioning. Previously he served briefly as the Governor of the Moscow Oblast, and is holder of Russia’s highest award Hero of the Russian Federation, awarded in 1999.
The cult of personality around Shoigu not only serves the purpose of humanizing the face of the military, it also represents the many varied peoples of the Eurasian space, of the Russian Federation, and of the USSR. His story, like that of Lavrov or even Medvedev, shows that power in modern Russia isn’t in the hands of Putin alone, even if Putin has some great power to veto things, in proportion. In Shoigu we find a number of important symbols expressed simultaneously, and in standard reporting like the Politnavigator story, we see how this works in Russian media and upon their collective psyche.