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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Defense Minister Wants 'Balanced' Army

New Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Saturday that he backed a "balanced" army, where the country's nuclear shield was maintained but conventional forces were reformed and improved.

Ivanov, appointed last week by President Vladimir Putin and expected to oversee any shakeup, said in a television interview he wanted to end conscription, but said it would take time.

"I consider that everything should be balanced," Ivanov said on ORT television.

"For example, the strategic rocket forces: This is the nuclear shield of the country, it is a reliable barrier against aggression toward Russia using nuclear weapons," he said.

"At the same time, the world is changing, the world is constantly changing. We see new threats that were not apparent 10 years ago. We have ignored a little bit the general armed forces, the infantry," he added.

He cited Chechnya, where the army is trying to stamp out separatist rebels, as an example of the decline of the conventional forces.

"For this we need a mobile force, militarily capable, armed well and armed in a modern way, including space means, which also need to be given a boost," he said.

A new branch of the army called the Space Forces is to be broken out by June from an earlier merger with the Strategic Rocket Forces and will launch spy satellites.

Ivanov, a lieutenant general in the SVR foreign intelligence service until Putin made him a civilian last year, oversaw the drafting of the military reform proposals in his previous job as secretary of the advisory Security Council.

He said in the interview it was logical he should become minister so the reforms could be made. He dismissed the idea of clashes between his predecessor Igor Sergeyev and the Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin over military reforms.