MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian draftees will not take part in combat operations, a top Russian defense official said Thursday.
“There is no talk of draftees’ participation in combat operations or military conflicts,” Russian General Staff Chief Col. Gen. Valery Gerasimov said while commenting on a recent presidential decree cutting the duration of combat training programs.
“These tasks will be fulfilled solely by contract servicemen,” Gerasimov, who is also a deputy Russian defense minister, said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree reducing the duration of combat training programs for conscripts from six to just four months, whereupon they may go on active duty at “hot spots,” according to a document posted on Tuesday on the country’s official legal information website, where laws, parliamentary acts and presidential decrees are displayed.
The decree entered into force on Monday.
A Russian defense expert has attributed the decision to the intensification of combat training in the Armed Forces and the freeing of draftees from the need to perform functions unrelated to their direct military duties.
Gerasimov said that the Russian president decided after the end of a counterterrorism operation in the North Caucasus that only contract servicemen would take part in combat operations.
“And the Defense Ministry has been implementing this decision without fail,” he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in October that the armed forces will continue to rely on conscription in the coming years and there are no plans to do away with the draft anytime soon.
Contract service personnel will be deployed with units designated for the highest degree of readiness and those that employ complex and expensive technologies, such as the Navy, the Strategic Missile Forces and the Aerospace Defense Forces.
The number of contract service members is to increase by about 50,000 a year to 240,000 at the end of 2013, 295,000 in 2014, 350,000 in 2015, 400,000 in 2016 and 425,000 in 2017, when contractors will account for almost half of all military personnel.
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