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Russian Conscripts: Still a Disaster

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Conscription in Russia continues to suck:

The year 1991 also had a particularly low birth rate, which makes a huge peacetime draft even more of a challenge. The young men are also entering employment and working age — and families in the middle of Russia’s economic crisis, which is sharper than the rest of the world’s, may not be so willing to give up their potential breadwinners. (Soldiers are paid a minimal and “symbolic” amount for service to their country, the equivalent of about $10 a month.) Moskovsky Komsomolets, a daily newspaper in the Russian capital, reports that 45,000 Muscovites, out of the 60,000 eligible to be conscripted, are currently trying to avoid military service.

Paying them more than $10 a month might help a lot; the remaining conscript armies in Western Europe offer relatively generous terms, as they understand that the dedicated can avoid military service without too much trouble. In any case, read the whole thing. Along with this, it serves as yet another refutation of the idea that Russia can offer any kind of serious peer competitor threat to the United States in the near or medium term. Russia can do much and is doing some to re-establish its military capabilities, but beyond the ability to effectively pound small neighbors into submission, we are very, very far from the Soviet heyday. The issue, as much as anything else, is political will. Putin and Medvedev are interested in a military establishment that can project prestige globally, but not one that can project power. Thus, we’ll continue to hear a lot about expensive high-tech projects that Russia is planning to engage in, or about to start up, or could pursue if it wanted to; such claims feed both the defense PR industry in the United States and the international prestige of Russia’s leadership.

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