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Military Service - 1990s

In modern Russia, February 11, 1993 the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation adopted the law "On Military Duty and Military Service." On military service were called citizens aged 18 to 27 years. The call was conducted twice a year (April-June and October-December). service period is established: in the Navy - 2 years; in all other troops - 1.5 years. Act of May 9, 1996 the term of service for conscripts in all the troops has been increased to 2 years (with higher education - 1 year).

The practice of the law of 1993 "On Military Duty and Military Service" revealed some of its weaknesses. To overcome them was called the law "On Military Duty and Military Service", signed by the President of the Russian Federation March 28, 1998 and valid until now. According to this document, the "Appeal" [call up] conscription of male citizens between the ages of 18 and 27 was held twice a year.

Military service became particularly unpopular in Russia in the 1990s. Under conditions of intense political and social uncertainty, the traditional appeal to Russian patriotism no longer resonated among Russia's youth. The percentage of draft-age youth who entered the armed forces dropped from 32 percent in 1994 to 20 percent in 1995. The Law on Military Service stipulated twenty-one grounds for draft exemption, but in many cases eligible individuals simply refuse to report; in July 1996, a report in the daily Pravda referred to a "daily boycott of the draft." In the first half of 1995, about 3,000 conscripts deserted, and in all of 1995 between 50,000 and 70,000 inductees refused to report. According to a 1996 Russian report, such personnel deficiencies meant that only about ten of Russia's sixty-nine ground forces divisions were prepared for combat. The armed forces responded to manpower shortages by extending the normal two-year period of active-duty service of those already in uniform; only about 19,000 of the approximately 230,000 troops scheduled for discharge in December 1994 were released on time.

The two most compelling reasons for the failure of conscription in the mid-1990s were the unfavorable living conditions and pay of soldiers (less than US$1 per month at 1995 exchange rates) and the well-publicized and extremely unpopular Chechnya operation. The Russian tradition of hazing in the ranks, which became more violent and was much more widely reported in the 1990s, also contributed to society's antipathy toward military service. By 1996 the approval rating of the military as a social institution had slipped to as little as 20 percent, far below the approval ratings achieved in the Soviet era.

Although by 1996 Russia's armed forces were less than one-third the size they reached at their Cold War peak in the mid-1980s, there still was a need for large numbers of personnel who were appropriately matched to their assigned duties and who could be motivated to serve conscientiously.

The semi-annual draft, which set about 200,000 as its regular quota in the mid-1990s with a term of active duty two years, was an abysmal failure in the post-Soviet era because of evasion and desertion. During evaluation of an initial, experimental contract plan, in May 1996 Yeltsin unexpectedly proposed the filling of all personnel slots in the armed forces with contract personnel by 2000. In 1996 some units already were more than half staffed by contract personnel, and an estimated 300,000 individuals, about 20 percent of the total nominal active force, were serving under contract. At that time, more than half of new contractees were women.

But the main obstacle to achieving Yeltsin's goal was funding. To attract competent contract volunteers, pay and benefits must be higher than those offered to conscripts. Already in early 1996, a reported 50,000 contract personnel had broken their contracts because of low pay and poor housing, and many commanders expressed dissatisfaction with the work of those who remained. In mid-1996 a final decision on the use of volunteers awaited discussion in the State Duma and a possible challenge in the Constitutional Court.

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Page last modified: 18-07-2016 13:30:03 ZULU