The gradual transition of the main part of Russia's Armed Forces to a primarily contract basis will start in 2005, said Deputy Chief of General Staff Vladislav Putilin on Friday. According to him, the transition's completion will depend on the financial and economic situation in Russia. "Several hundred billion rubles will be needed," Mr. Putilin said. At the same time, he mentioned that in order to replace the conscripts of one ground division with professional servicemen, the Armed Forces will have to spent at least 500 million rubles (about $16.5 million). Besides this, Mr. Putilin emphasised that according to the estimates of the General Staff, "the current formation of the Armed Forces does not meet modern requirements and does not provide for a sustainable troops combat readiness." According to Mr. Putilin, currently 20 to 25 percent of soldiers and sergeants positions are filled by individuals on a contract basis and 75 percent by conscripts.
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