|SLUG: 2-269051 Russia / Military (L)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=RUSSIA / MILITARY (L)
INTRO: Russia's influential Security Council is proposing to end years of military reform debate by slashing 600-thousand positions from the country's three-million-member armed forces during the next five years. V-O-A Correspondent Eve Conant in Moscow reports the proposed cuts underscore Russia's dependence on nuclear deterrence and its economic difficulty in supporting its military.
TEXT: Russian President Vladimir Putin told a gathering of the country's top military brass that the time has come to reform Russia's army.
/// PUTIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "the time is up. We must make a final decision. The fate of the Russian army, the country, and its people depends on this."
Russia's Security Council then approved proposals to cut Russia's military by 600-thousand people and to work towards creating a more mobile and better-equipped armed forces.
Russian news agencies quoted Security Council Secretary Sergey Ivanov as saying the country's military is an "excessive burden for Russia's economy." The Security Council is an advisory body, but its decision is expected to lead to a presidential order to impose the cuts.
Security Council Chief Ivanov, however, said most of the cuts would come from ministries not directly related to military service.
/// IVANOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says, "The total number of servicemen and civilians working in the army to be cut will be 600-thousand. But we are not going to cut down the combat constituent of our army. We will mostly cut down in the rear and management structures of the military."
The cuts would include previously announced defense ministry reductions.
Russian officials for years have talked about cutting the size of the military and moving away from a poorly trained force of conscripts to a smaller, professional army. At present, the military can no longer pay to train troops properly or maintain weapons. Draft dodging is widespread, and federal casualties have been high in Russia's current military campaign in Chechnya.
In 1996, a previous conflict with breakaway Chechnya ended with Russia's humiliating defeat at the hands of outnumbered and lightly armed Chechen guerillas. (Signed)