Almost Half of Russians are for Conscript Soldiers

2Russians are divided about the use of conscript soldiers in the army, according to a survey published Tuesday.

1A total of 48 percent of Russians believe the military draft should remain a key source of manpower for the army, while 40 percent think only professional contract soldiers should serve, the poll by the independent Levada Center found.

In November 2013  Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the Russian army would never be fully contract: according to him, the large size of Russian Armed Forces will not allow the country to switch completely to such a system.

3Also according to the survey, more than half of respondents ( 54%) would prefer to see their family member served a year at the call , and 31% were in favor of two years service contract. In addition, almost half of Russians (48 percent) would like their children to serve in the army, while 33 percent would prefer to help their relatives dodge military service.

“Two-thirds of respondents (61 %) did not doubt the ability of the Russian army to protect the population in the event of a real threat ,” said the communiqué. While 24 % believe that the army can not now protect Russia in the case of a military threat, while another 15 % were undecided on this issue.

The poll of 1,603 respondents across 45 Russian regions was conducted on January 24-27 and has a margin of error of less than 3.4 percent.

4Russia is reforming its armed forces by shifting away from a largely inefficient body of conscripted soldiers toward a smaller professional army.

5Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last year that Russia’s military will have 500,000 soldiers serving on professional contracts within a decade. But he acknowledged that the armed forces will continue to rely on a mix of conscripts and contracted recruits for the foreseeable future.

The country has struggled in recent years to fulfil quotas for conscripts due to widespread draft dodging and a scarcity of eligible young men, following a collapse in the birth rate during the turbulent 1990s.

1The military needs to enroll about 300,000 men during each draft to keep the number of army personnel at the required level of 1 million.

According to official data, the current strength of the Russian Armed Forces is estimated at 774,500 personnel, including 220,000 officers and about 200,000 contracted soldiers.

All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obliged by law to perform one year of military service. The shortest term of a military service contract is two years.

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