There are some 1,162,000 officers and men serving in the Russian armed forces at the moment, Russian Chief of the General Staff Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin has told Rossiiskaya Gazeta, in an interview to be published in the newspaper's May 14 edition.
Thus, Russia's army now has a million-and-a-half fewer servicemen than a decade ago. But the present number is sufficient for manning forces used in strategic deterrence as well as general-purpose forces, Gen. Kvashnin says.
The Chief of the General Staff believes that the country should be defended by people with adequate professional training. According to him, mercenaries now account for 21 percent of the Russian army's privates and non-commissioned officers, which means that every fifth man is a professional soldier. Gen. Kvashnin says that Russia's permanent readiness units will soon be made contract-based whereas in other types of units, mercenaries will be taken on only as junior commanders to train conscripts, he said. Successful candidates will have at least six months of military service behind them, he added.
The draft system will remain in Russia for several more years, Gen. Kvashnin announced. The length of military service for the draftees is now being determined, he added.