Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 35

The Russian military leadership may be wary of the idea of converting to an all-volunteer force, but the present conscription system does not seem to be working either. In a briefing on February 14, a representative of the General Staff indicated that the Autumn 1996 draft did not go well for the armed forces and that this trend could continue in the future. According to Maj. Gen. Valery Astanin, the armed forces inducted 117,300 new soldiers in the last draft. Since the goal was 215,000 conscripts for all the military ministries and departments — of which 65 percent, or some 140,000, were to go to the regular armed forces — the Ministry of Defense’s share would seem to fall 16 percent short of expectations. Moreover, as bad those numbers were, the quality was worse. Astanin said that one in three inductees had not completed high school, 12 percent were “drunkards,” and more than 5 percent had criminal records. Astanin also complained that some 79 percent of the eligible cohort had obtained deferments from military service, while another 31,000 dodged the draft. He warned that a new law on alternative service about to be passed by the Federal Assembly would only make the situation worse, and could mean the loss of another 60,000 recruits each year. (Itar-Tass & Radio Russia, February 14)

Ukraine, Kazakstan Coordinate Steps to Defend National Prerogatives.