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Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

WASHINGTON – Russian leaders are becoming increasing alarmed over the state of Russian military readiness and the ability to have a properly trained military force, strongly suggesting that the military reform program announced with great fanfare a few years ago has been a major failure, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The Kremlin originally wanted to dramatically reduce the number of soldiers while providing more highly trained personnel such as Spetznaz, or Special Forces, units.

The Kremlin also wanted to have more of a volunteer military, meaning that pay would have to be dramatically increased and there would have to be major reforms undertaken throughout the entire structure of the Russian military.

However, these developments haven’t occurred.

“The Russian military is in serious trouble – its ranks are shrinking rapidly,” said Paul Felgenhauer of the Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation. “Russia’s birthrate is low, the population is shrinking and with it the number of available conscripts, while hundreds of thousands dodge the draft and make the situation worse.”

To deal with this crisis, the Russian Duma, or parliament, is considering legislation to file felony charges against draft dodgers.

Some four years ago, there was an effort to decrease compulsory military service from two years to one year. Then President Vladimir Putin had decided to take this course, thinking that conscripts then would decide to enlist for three more years.

The idea not only was to develop a reserve pool but to create a source of hundreds of thousands of contract troops.

Since conscripts wouldn’t be sent into combat, it then was thought that draft dodging would be virtually eliminated. The overall plan was to develop a one million-man military.

Many young men, however, have decided instead to serve with the federal police force, border guards, Customs or FSB security service in lieu of the military, since these services have received pay increases and, given the corruption of the Russian police and others, “recruits (have) access to a substantial additional income in bribes and racket payments, while avoiding the risks of military service in combat zones,” Felgenhauer said.

Less than half of the 400,000 expected contract soldiers signed up in 2008. They in turn were not only poorly trained but subject to harassment and other demeaning treatment that made them poorly motivated.

The effort brought about only 220,000 officers and 180,000 contract service personnel. However, the military was unable to obtain 600,000 conscripts.

The same problem occurred in succeeding years in acquiring conscripts, to the point that the military will only be able to acquire 50 percent of projected numbers.

Unable to achieve the reforms sought to meet its one-million-man goal, the Kremlin has had to resort to the more punitive approach of legislation to make it a crime to be a draft dodger if the young person fails to show up in person during the spring and fall call ups.

“Failure to arrive without a legitimate excuse could be prosecuted as a felony,” Felgenhauer said. “Whether this will help is unclear. Putin’s Russia is too corrupt to do anything right.”

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