Russian army strength must be no less than 600,000 people

The lowest possible strength of the Russian army must not be less than 600,000 servicemen, Alexei Arbatov, Deputy State Duma Speaker for Defense said at a RIA Novosti press conference on Friday.

"Russia needs an effective nuclear-space potential, whose strength will be some 150,000-200,000 people," Arbatov believes. "The remaining 400,000 people will make up the rapid reaction corps to resolve local and regional tasks." However, in the expert's words, the total strength of the Armed Forces at 600,000 servicemen is a minimum. "In the present conditions, the optimum strength is some 800,000 people," Arbatov believes.

In the expert's opinion, a million-strong army is not in the military reform's interests. "A million-strong army does not make it possible to transfer to a contract principle of recruiting, or retool the Armed Forces," Arbatov said.

In his words, in the present conditions, 70 per cent of the country's military budget, totaling $411 billion (1 dollar is about 30 rubles), goes to maintain the army.

Besides, in Arbatov's opinion, in the conditions of new challenges and threats, such as regional, trans-border conflicts, and terrorist activities, a big army might prove inefficient. "An army prepared for a major war may not be ready for a small-scale conflict," the expert emphasized.

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