Russian army shifts to contract service

"By the end of 2007, we must have an army 50 percent staffed by contract servicemen," Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov said at a government meeting today. After that, he said, the term of military service could be reduced to one year, by 2008.

According to Ivanov, experience shows that "material motivation is not enough to attract contract servicemen". "It is necessary to choose the best men for contract service," he added. The Defense Minister also stressed the need to pay more attention to educational work and discipline in the army. "These are key priorities for the army command," he stressed.

At the same time, Ivanov admitted that there were many difficulties. According to him, today's soldiers are poorly educated, and their physical and psychological health is also worsening.

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