Russian military denies problems with conscription
MOSCOW, April 1 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Defense Ministry does not expect any problems with the military draft due to a sharp drop in birth rates in Russia in the 1990s, a senior military official said on Thursday.
"Russia will have at least 3 million potential draftees in the next few years despite the "demographic hole" [of the 1990s]," said Col. Gen. Vasily Smirnov, the Chief of the Main Organization and Mobilization Directorate of the Russian General Staff.
The Russian military plans to draft about 270,000 eligible young people during the spring 2010 conscription.
The general said Russia had enough people to man its Armed Forces, but the citizens must be taught to respect their constitutional duty to defend the country.
"Many people read the Constitution and see only their rights, which they always want to protect. But they forget about their responsibilities, which are also stipulated there," Smirnov said.
In line with the ongoing military reform, the Russian Armed Forces will be downsized to 1 million personnel by 2016, enlisting 150,000 officers and about 745,000 soldiers.
The length of military service for draftees will remain unchanged at 1 year.
According to Smirnov, the number of contracted soldiers will be reduced but their salaries will be sharply increased.
"We have abandoned the plans to contract the majority of military personnel and decided to focus on the quality of enlisted personnel. There will be fewer contracted soldiers in the future, but they will fill the positions which require highly-developed professional skills and determine the combat capabilities of military units," the general said.
He added that military units serving in Chechnya and other 'hot spots' will be formed only from contracted soldiers.
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