Russia Is Expanding It’s Army

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Russia military academies may increase the quota due to the unprecedented competition per one vacancy. The move would therefore lead to a significant expansion of Russia’s army.

“I’ve been overseeing the enrollment process in military academies for a while, but such a competition, as it is this year, I have never seen before,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov told the journalists, as reported by Russia’s state-owned ITAR-TASS.

According to Pankov, most enrollees aspire to study in command academies, including Blagoveshenskij and Novosibirskij command academies as well as Ryazan airborne command academy. In these military educational institutions, the competition is six applications per vacancy.

As noted by Pankov, “among women applicants the competition is 30 applications per vacancy. To the military university, 33 per vacancy.”

“We will have to ask the defense minister to reconsider the current quotas…We cannot be indifferent to this type of situation. We will give thought to it and approach the defense minister with our proposals,” he added.

Pankov also noted that the percentage of enrollment into military academies among secondary military educational institutions has drastically increased.

In December 2014, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu announced the reduction of the 2015 enrollment plan into military academies to 11.1 thousand enrollees, which is 3 thousands enrollees less compared to 2013. According to Shoygu, is could be explained that Russia had managed to “synchronize the criteria of professional order with in service demand of Russia’s military.”

As of today, Russia has about 771,000 active military service members and 2,035,000 in its reserves.

Russia to spend $400 billion to modernize its military

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to strengthen Russia’s military might in order to drive away threats from his country’s borders.

Despite the fact that Russia suffers from the plummeting oil prices, weakness of ruble as well as U.S. and EU sanctions, which were renewed for another six months earlier this month, Putin has vowed to go on with his 22 trillion ruble (more than $400 billion) military modernization plan.

According to Sputnik News, Putin pointed out that Russia is in need of a structural reform within the Russian Armed Forces as well as new weapon acquisitions programs, which are set to continue over the next few years.

“A strong army equipped with sophisticated weapons guarantees Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also guarantees that millions of our fellow citizens can live in peace. I am sure you understand it quite well,” Putin said, explaining his move to modernize Russia’s military.

Putin pointed out that Russia has no aggressive intentions and aspires to “settle any disputes exclusively by political means with respect to international law and interests of other nations.”

However, it is widely discussed whether Russia will be able to withstand the costs of such a long-term and massive military buildup. In May 2015, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that the 2015 3.3 trillion ruble ($60 billion) military budget would have to be cut by five percent, or 157 billion rubles ($2.8 billion).

Furthermore, the Kremlin also ordered 10 percent across-the-board cuts in government-funded services for Russian regions and municipalities, while pension and defense would be the only two areas not to be cut.

In 2015, Russia’s GDP is expected to plummet by 4.6 percent as a result of lower oil prices, the U.S. and EU sanctions as well as weak ruble.

Russian military buildup is evidence Putin will seize Ukraine

Russian military buildup as well as its army expansion announced by Russian president is evidence that Putin still intends to seize the remaining territory of Ukraine, according to Ukraine Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak.

“There is threat still because the military groups of the [separatists] … and Russian troops continue to build up their forces, bringing additional equipment and ammunition, and of course their plans are not peaceful,” Poltorak said at a press conference, as reported to the Moscow Times. “One should not be naive and think that Putin has given up his plans to seize Ukraine, to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. He’s just changing his tactics and strategies, but his goal remains the same: to seize Ukraine.”

The comments come as earlier in June, NATO carried out a large-scale military exercise in the Baltic Sea.

For the past 65 years, NATO has carried out hundreds of military drills, but not a single one of them were as robust as the ‘Noble Jump’ exercises in Poland, which were completed at the end of the past week.

The military drills were the first exercises of the recently created NATO’s very high readiness Spearhead Force. The need to carry out such military drills clearly indicate the tense relations between NATO and Russia, which responds to every NATO’s military drills with its own exercises.

Only 10 percent of Russians do not approve the policy of Vladimir Putin

The approval rating of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia has reached its historical maximum, skyrocketing to 89 percent of respondents. Meanwhile, 64 percent of respondents are certain that Russia moves in the right direction, according to the survey by Levada-center in June.

In June 2015, most respondents – 89 percent – said they approve the policy of Vladimir Putin as president of Russia. In January and March this year, Putin’s approval rating was 85 percent, while in February, April and May – 86 percent of Russians. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of Russians do not approve Putin’s policy, and 1 percent could not give an answer.

For comparison, in June 2014, Putin’s approval rating was 86 percent, and in June 2013, only 63 percent.

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