Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is making a re-run for the post of Russian president, expressed doubt on Monday that Russia would be able to make the transition to a fully professional army by 2015.
Some of his opponents in the presidential race have stated that Russia must abolish the military draft by 2015.
“I believe that we should do it [eventually]. But I am not sure if we can do it by 2015,” Putin said at a meeting with political experts in his residence near Moscow.
“We need vast resources to be able to accomplish this task,” he said. “Let’s count the required expenses first.”
The decade-long debate on the number of professional servicemen in Russia's armed forces is still 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 774,500 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 the autumn 2011 and spring 2012 draft period.
The Russian military is planning to raise the number of professional soldiers in the Armed Forces to 450,000 by 2017.