Ukrainian army to be reduced by 24,000 people in 2003

In 2003 the Ukrainian army will be reduced by 24,000 people and 900 units of arms and military equipment, said Ukrainian Defense Minister Vladimir Shkidchenko at Tuesday's session of the ministry's annual collegium. The reduction will allow to decrease "pressure" on the country's state budget and to improve the army's maintenance, the minister believes.

This year Ukraine has completed "the first stage of the improvement of the army's combat efficiency, and has optimized its structure", Shkidchenko reported. Special attention was paid to the fulfilment of the state programme for manning the country's armed forces by contract servicemen, he pointed out.

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