The optimal size of the Russian army is 1 million people, according to Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov. The defense minister is currently in the Far East on a working trip. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, Mr Ivanov believes that it will be impossible to strengthen the army 'unless soldiers are given a higher social status and a higher income.' Mr Ivanov said that a new military programme for 2001-2010 is now under way.
The minister also said that the Russian army is still being reduced but added that it must be strengthened by 'modern, accurate weaponry and must be mobile, professional and effective. Only then will Russia be able to stand up to the challenges and threats that it is now facing,' he said.
Mr Ivanov also believes that the Russian armed forces must now take an active part in counter-terrorist activities. 'The army's goal is to protect those military establishments which may become targets of revenge for terrorists, as well as mobilise, block, capture, and destroy terrorists.'