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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Sets Army Target at 1.5 million

President Boris Yeltsin kept up the pressure on his reluctant generals Wednesday, saying they should be able to cut Russia's army sharply to 1.5 million men, Itar-Tass reported. Yeltsin told leaders of the Amur region in Russia's Far East that spending on technical equipment for Russia's armed forces could not be overlooked, and that a target of 1.5 million was still strategically realistic. The figure is significantly lower than the 1.9 million suggested by Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who said in December, "An army of 1.5 million isn't enough for this huge country.'' After months of enjoying the president's favor, the military recently has been forced to accept a smaller budget than it had demanded and now is being told its forces should be smaller, too. Yeltsin said Friday in a nationally televised Kremlin news conference: "The army should be more active in cutting the number of servicemen. I cannot understand their indecision. We cannot, society cannot today maintain the 3-million-strong army" inherited from the Soviet Union. Yeltsin's press secretary, Anatoly Krasikov, said Wednesday he could not confirm the new figure of 1.5 million, adding that Yeltsin had not suggested such a sharp cut before. (AP, MT)