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Russia: Defense Minister Outlines Military Reforms

Moscow, 11 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's recently appointed Defense Minister today spoke out for profound reforms in the armed forces and for maintaining battle-ready units with well-developed infrastructure.

Speaking at a veterans meeting in Moscow, Igor Sergeyev said that what he called "four units of the future" will be created next year, two of them in the Moscow military district, one in the Far East and one in the North Caucasus. Interfax quotes unnamed military experts as saying Sergeyev meant the creation of rapid reaction forces, including mobile units, air and naval power.

Sergeyev also called on the defense industry to develop weapons in line with a major re-equipment of the army planned between 2001-2005.

President Boris Yeltsin, who has been pressing for a leaner, more professional army, has already endorsed Sergeyev's reform proposals.

In a message to the veterans today Yeltsin called their personal example vital at the outset of large-scale reform of the armed forces.