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MOSCOW, April 1. /TASS/. Amid mounting challenges to the security of Russia’s borders the armed forces need qualitative growth rather than quantitative one, polled military analysts have said, as this year’s spring military draft began on April 1.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry a total of 150,000 conscripts aged 18-27 are to be drafted into the armed forces. Five hundred conscripts will be drafted from the newly-adopted constituent territories of Russia - Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. In 2014 the number of contract servicemen in the Russian army for the first time exceeded that of conscripts - 295,000 against 273,000.
"As far as the quality of the Russian armed forces is concerned, they are being re-armed in earnest with the newest samples of offensive and defensive systems no other army in the world has at its disposal at the moment. A total of 22 trillion rubles (roughly $370 billion) has been allocated for re-equipping the Russian armed forces by 2020. Special research and development military units are being formed, and getting into them is a dream of many university students. Even infantry in the modern context is becoming a high-tech equipped branch of the armed forces," the president of the International Centre for Geopolitical Problems, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov has told TASS.
"The strength of the armed forces, currently standing at one million officers and men, does not have to be increased further. The more so since the more sophisticated military hardware is, the fewer personnel (but far more competent and knowledgeable) is needed to operate it. If the external threats grow, it will be our right to increase the strength of the armed forces accordingly. No international restrictions apply. But at the same time it is necessary to preserve the mixed principle of manning the Russian armed forces, because conscripts are the potential candidates for future contract servicemen. As for the possibility of prolonging the duration of conscription service, the Defence Ministry is still in the process of studying the issue. Military specialists tend to believe there is no need for prolonging the period of mandatory military service. Instead it would be better to improve pre-draft training of young people in schools and at universities," Ivashov said.
"Morale is the key factor that determines any army’s combat readiness and capabilities. The current spring draft began in a very new context. As NATO is pushing ahead with large-scale military exercises near Russia’s borders and the civil war keeps smoldering in neighbouring Ukraine, society is developing greater awareness of the need for protecting the nation and young people join the army with the awareness of their responsibility," Ivashov concluded.
The president of the Geopolitical Problems Academy, Dr. Sc. Konstantin Sivkov disagrees with Leonid Ivashov regarding the forecast optimal strength of the Russian armed forces. "In the context of growing threats to Russia’s security it is essential to build up military muscle. At the moment the Russian army numbers approximately 800,000, while guaranteed protection from military and terrorist threats requires an army of 1.2 million. In other words, there should be an increase in strength by 50%," Sivkov argues.
"Whether contract manning must enjoy a priority is a debatable issue. Conscripts should constitute the backbone of Russia’s armed forces. Contract servicemen usually take high-tech positions requiring long training, while the bulk of maintenance work is done by conscripts. This explains why the duration of conscription service must be increased from the current twelve months to 24. The license to drive a truck or bus is issued after several years of practice. To acquire professional tank driving skills one year is not enough. That’s the standard duration of a crash course for novices," Sivkov believes.
"Providing high accuracy smart weapons for the Russian army is a priority task. The US has 3,000 operational Tomahawk missiles. Our weapons of the same class number several dozen. True, such weapons are costly. One Tomahawk costs two million dollars, and one fighter jet, 35 million. But trying to contain costs at the expense of the nation’s defences would be impermissible. In this context I believe it is worth recalling the need to fight against corruption within the Defence Ministry’s system and in the military-industrial complex in general," Sivkov said.
"New ambitious tasks arise with Crimea’s re-unification with Russia and the exploration of the Arctic. As for Crimea, Russian society can be calm about its future. A large and strong group is being formed there. In the Arctic there have been discovered the most valuable reserves of natural resources. Climate warming is about to open up vast opportunities for merchant shipping along the Northern Sea Route. In view of the legally unsettled territorial issues and the forthcoming demarcation of borders in the Arctic mutual show of military muscle in the region is inevitable. Russia’s Navy will have to increase its presence in the Arctic zone," Sivkov said.
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