Russian military pay rises, but draft to remain
Moscow: Although salaries for members of the Russian armed forces are rising fast, the country will continue to rely on conscription in coming years, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.
In an interview with the newsweekly Itogi, Serdyukov said commanders of Russia's Pacific Fleet nuclear ballistic missile submarines will earn more than he does beginning Jan 1.
"If (the sub commander) is serving in Kamchatka, for example, I think his pay will be higher," he said.
Beginning Jan 1, 2013, compensation for service members will include base pay and incentive pay, incorporating length of service and other factors.
"This is not going to be small change. This will be real money," Serdyukov said.
Russia substantially raised military pay for officers earlier this year. For example, a lieutenant now receives 50,000 rubles ($1,600) a month on average, he said.
But Russia will not do away with the draft any time soon.
"An entirely professional army is optimal in my view," Serdyukov said.
"But we cannot afford it for the foreseeable future," he said, adding that for now the armed forces will include a mix of professionals serving under enlistment contracts and draftees.
Contract service members will be used in units designated for the highest degree of readiness and those that employ complex and expensive technologies.
"In the navy, the strategic rocket forces and aerospace defense, practically all those military specialties," Serdyukov said.
The current armed forces reform plan calls for reducing the total number of service members to one million people from 1.2 million by the end of 2012. The officer ranks will be trimmed to 220,000 from 350,000.
The number of contract service members is targeted 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 they will account for almost half of all military personnel.
The defence ministry has so far established 66 contract recruiting centers throughout Russia.