No money, no professional army, says Russian Defense Minister

10:46, May 20, 2010      

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Russia can not afford to change its conscription-based military system for a contract one, Defense Minister Anatoli Serdyukov said Wednesday.

Serdyukov criticized underfinancing of the army and a shortage of conscripts, local media reported.

The Defense Ministry has been preparing a law that aims to toughen up the charges for attempts to avoid military service and to abolish the respites for university students.

The Kremlin publicly recognizes that the existing conscription service suffers from numerous flaws like hazing, malnutrition and poor living conditions for the soldiers. Russian leaders repeatedly called for shifting the army to a contract mode. Still, the number of servicemen on contracts will not likely rise, military officials said.

"No money, no professional army," Serdyukov said when asked about the timing of the army reform.

The minister did not confirm rumors that his ministry plans to rise the call-up age to 30 years from the current 27.

According to official data, there are 150,000 servicemen on contract in a million-strong Russian army.

Demographers forecast that Russia will fall into the "demographic pit" after 2012, which means fewer young people will be available for military draft every following year.

Source: Xinhua


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