Lack of finance prevents Russian army from switching over to contractual basis

It is impossible now to put all the Russian army on a contractual basis, because the state lacks financial resources, Vasily Smirnov, a Russian General Staff spokesman, said on Wednesday. He was speaking at a session of the upper house of parliament that met to discuss the progress in the military reform of the country.

By way of experiment, one of the airborne divisions based in the north-western city of Pskov was put on a contractual basis in Russia recently. This experiment alone required 2.7 billion roubles (about 86 mln dollars), said the spokesman. So, according to him, men "should serve in parallel" as draftees and under a contract in Russia's armed forces.

The need for a military reform has been debated in the country for several years now. The reform provides for a reduction of the army, but the Russian top brass is against it.

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