Putin will cut Russia's bankrupt army by 600,000

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The Independent Online

Russia is to reduce its armed forces by 600,000 in the next five years. A national security council spokesman said the country would be unable to wage large-scale war until 2010.

Russia is to reduce its armed forces by 600,000 in the next five years. A national security council spokesman said the country would be unable to wage large-scale war until 2010.

President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the council that "the moment had come" to decide the future of Russia's armed forces, which the government can no longer afford to train and equip.

Russia has already announced that it is cutting its forces overseen by the Defence Ministry by 365,000. In addition the security council decided yesterday 105,000 military personnel from the 11 armed organisations, such as the Interior Ministry, would go, as would 130,000 civilian staff.

Vladimir Potapotov, the deputy secretary of the council, said the country's leadership was well aware that Russia would be unable to fight a big conventional war for 10 years.

Mr Putin said: "Today we need to ... take final decisions. The fate of the armed forces and Russia's security depend on this. The time limit has expired."

While it has long been obvious that Russia would need to reduce the size of its armed forces, the cuts have provoked fierce internecine struggles within the military leadership. The conventional armed forces want to see a reduction in the size of the rocket force, while the latter argues that Russia's nuclear missiles make it a world power.

Mr Putin said: "The earmarked budget funds must reach the defence agencies on schedule and in the correct amounts." In the past, military forces have not received funds allocated for their support.

Despite the vast size of the army Russia has had difficulty maintaining enough trained soldiers in Chechnya.

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