MOSCOW, December 19 (Sputnik) – The number of professional soldiers serving in the Russian Armed Forces stood at record 295,000 people this year, setting an all-time record, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said Friday.
“More than 90,000 people have been chosen and contracted in 2014. As a result, the number of such soldiers in the Russian armed forces has set a historic record,” the official told reporters.
“A total of 295,000 professional soldiers are currently serving in the armed forces,” he continued, adding that contracted soldiers prefer to join special forces, naval infantry, Airborne Forces, Strategic Missile Forces and Aerospace Defense Forces.
Russia is currently implementing an ambitious 20-trillion ruble (about $335 billion at the current exchange rate) rearmament program, planned to be finished by 2020.
The program is part of the large-scale 2008 military reform, which envisions a significant downsizing of the armed forces, a reduction of the number of conscripts and an increase in the number of professional soldiers.
On December 10, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said the Russian Defense Ministry was planning to purchase up to 100 combat planes, over 120 helicopters, up to 30 naval vessels and some 600 armored vehicles annually in the next five years.