The Russian General Staff claims to have drafted a new "military reform" plan to cover the next two years, but the few details made public indicate that it is an unambitious program aimed only at carrying out a presidentially-mandated 200,000 man reduction rather than part of a substantial reform effort. In slimming down, the armed forces will first cut units with the oldest equipment. In addition, a number of other units will be "restructured." The changes will not involve merging any of the existing 5 services. (RIA Novosti, April 29)
The military has argued that reforms will require greater defense expenditures, while many in the government insist that the armed forces must first reform themselves in order to save money. On April 29 Economics Minister Yakov Urinson, a deputy prime minister, repeated this second viewpoint. He said the armed forces will not get any extra funding this year but held out the hope that the defense budget might be raised to 3.9 percent of GDP by the year 2000. (Interfax, April 29)
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