The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Author: The Editors
Page 64 ( 1 pages)
Russia’s annual spring military draft began April 1 and runs through July 15. As is often the case with things that have outlived their purpose, this dinosaur seems to get harder to kill with each passing year.
Russia maintains a “mixed” military, where about half of its ground forces consists of draftees aged 18-27 who serve for one year, while the other half are paid, contract soldiers.
This spring, the state seeks to draft 142,000 young men, down 10,000 from last year’s number, and about half the number it called up at the turn of the century.
As the number of annual draftees declines, the number of contract soldiers must increase, particularly if the military overall wants to hit the goal of a million man army (three years ago the Defense Ministry said 220,000 officers, 50,000 warrants, 425,000 contractees, and 300,000 conscripts was its goal by the end of 2017).
Despite difficulties (the draft process is notorious for being rife with corruption and mismanagement), the public still seems to stand behind the antiquated practice. A recent Levada Center poll found that 58 percent of Russians are for maintaining the draft, while just 37 percent are for a fully contract army.
Human rights activist Arseny Levinson, of the social initiative Citizen and Army, is not in that 58 percent. He says that for some warped, bureaucratic reason, “a system has arisen in which there is no shortage of draftees, but a shortage is being artificially created by the military commissariat,” which tries calling up those with poor health or who have deferments, but not those who would be willing and physically able to serve if they were called.
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