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    NO NEED FOR PERSONNEL CHANGES IN DEFENCE MINISTRY - SERGEY IVANOV

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    MOSCOW, January 28, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov sees no reason for any personnel changes in his department so far.

    "The team has been formed and worked for a year quite successfully. We know what, when and why we are doing," said Mr. Ivanov after meeting his Spanish counterpart Federico Trillo on Wednesday.

    "I can't say I am 100% happy with the processes afoot in our armed forces, reforms in particular. But there is always room for perfection, and I think any minister would concur with me," said Ivanov.

    Reform priorities were chosen correctly and do not need to be changed, said Ivanov. "We have agreed on the programme to recruit contract servicemen. We already have an air-borne division consisting of contract servicemen only," said the minister.

    "We are well aware that it is impossible to implement all the changes and reforms overnight. Those who think it is are merely demagogues," noted Ivanov.

    The minister also underlined that the essence of the Russian army reform is identical to that of Nato's current efforts. "Both Nato countries and Russia want to have rapid deployment units (as they are referred to in Nato), or permanent combat readiness units as they are called in Russia." In his words, the army's rearmament is a no less important vector. "We are working in this area too. We have means and programmes," said Ivanov. The types of weapons Russia needs have been already determined, and "we are not going to stop halfway." "This programme is different from the Soviet one, when large amounts of everything were ordered," said Ivanov. Now we order only the equipment meeting the armed forces' requirements of the 21st century.

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