Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has announced a large-scale modernisation of its armed forces is to begin in 2011.
The reforms aim to turn the largely demoralised military into a smaller, better equipped and more mobile fighting unit:
“The threat of local conflicts and of international terrorism are still present. Attempts to expand the military infrastructure of NATO near the borders of our country are continuing. All this requires a modernisation of our armed forces, giving them a new modern shape,” said the president.
Military experts say the move was prompted by Russia’s five-day war with Georgia last August. Russian troops quickly seized swathes of Georgian land. However, the conflict exposed a dearth of modern weapons and advanced communication systems.
However, Medvedev is facing resistance from a number of generals as the officer class is set to be reduced by more than a half from the current 355,000 to 150,000.
Military analysts say it is the most radical overhaul of the armed forces since the end of the Second World War.