After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the nation’s once powerful army began a process of gradually disintegrating into the current feeble force it now represents. Only a few days ago the Defense Ministry drafted a new bill that extends the term of service for military officers by five years. However, each officer will decide if he wants to continue to serve in an armed force which offers low pay and terrible working conditions. The problem for Russia’s army is also impacted by demographic factors. In 2009 only 850,000 young men will turn 18 and at least half of them will obtain deferments in order to attend college. The army is trying to call these young men into service as privates and has closed military departments in universities which historically trained officers. Soon, there may be privates but there will not be officers to lead them.
Thee is scant evidence officeres who are eligible for retirement will continue serving even with the incentive of bonuses. The Russian army has been wracked with scandals of soldiers being abused and lack of modern equipment. Russia still has a large atomic bomb arsenal, but due to demographic changes the recruits will not be in the pipeline in the coming decades. Most probably Russia will have to create a highly professional army that is smaller in size but well paid and provided proper equipment and living conditions.