Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 138

A Russian General Staff officer announced yesterday that 214,000 conscripts had been inducted into the military during the Spring draft, thus meeting the goal set by President Boris Yeltsin. Maj. Gen. Valery Astanin said that, as a result, the armed forces are now manned at 85 percent, up from 82 percent last year. According to Astanin, this success had been achieved in spite of the fact that the Defense Ministry had been able to provide the military districts with only 28 billion of the 250 billion rubles needed to finance the draft. The shortfall was met by local governments, he said, which "advanced resources on credit." As in the previous draft, more than 30,000 youths dodged conscription.

This latest draft quota was roughly the same size as that of the previous campaign in the Fall of 1996. But officials have hinted that this year’s Fall draft might be significantly smaller, as Russia’s long-delayed military reform begins in earnest. One component of this reform program will be an increased emphasis on contract — or volunteer — service. Astanin revealed that some 231,000 persons now serve on contract in the armed forces and that 115,000 of these are women. He suggested, however, that the program had not been a complete success. A contract soldier cost 3.5 times that of a conscript and "the performance of a contract soldier is not as high as was expected," he said. Some 17,000 such contracts have been annulled, and Astanin expects the number to rise next year. (RIA Novosti, July 15)

Ivanov Sentenced in Lithuania, Defended by Russian Allies.