Only 10.3% of those eligible for military service will actually be called up in 2003. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced today by Major General Victor Kozhushkho, head of the General Staff's draft directorate. 'This is the lowest figure in any European country where some form of conscription exists,' he said. As a result, he said, there will be a shortage of 40 thousand soldiers in the Russian army on June 1, 2003. In Mr Kozhushko's opinion, the reason for this is 'the large number of unjustified reasons for deferment from military service.'
He added that the Ministry of Defense is extremely concerned about the low intellectual level of the new recruits: a quarter have only finished primary school and 5% are convicted offenders.
Russian officials have repeatedly declared that Israeli aviation poses a threat to the Russian military in Syria.