MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian military continues to experience shortage of conscripts physically fit to serve in the armed forces, a senior military official said commenting on the autumn draft period being held in Russia from October 1 to December 31.
“The fitness for military service does not meet our requirements yet,” Maj. Gen. Yevgeny Burdinsky, the deputy head of the General Staff's Chief Organization and Mobilization Directorate, said on Thursday.
Speaking in an interview with Rossiya 24 television, Burdinsky said only 71 percent of the draftees had been deemed eligible to serve while 29 percent could not be drafted due to poor health.
“Some young men don’t even know that they have health problems,” the general said, adding that about 60,000 draftees were sent for additional medical check-ups during the spring 2013 draft.
The decade-long debate on the number of professional servicemen in Russia's armed forces remains unresolved, and the Defense Ministry still largely relies on conscription. All Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obliged by law to perform one year of military service.
According to official data, the current strength of the Russian Armed Forces is estimated at about 800,000 personnel, including 220,000 officers and about 200,000 contracted soldiers.
The military needs to recruit about 300,000 men during each draft to keep the number of personnel at the required level of 1 million.
However, the crisis in the conscript service caused by demographic decline and draft dodging has led the Defense Ministry to halve the number of conscripts in four consecutive draft periods since the autumn draft of 2011.
The Russian military is planning to raise the number of professional soldiers in the Armed Forces to 450,000 by 2017.