JSMS Article – Jason P. Gresh, “The Realities of Russian Military Conscription”

Jason P. Gresh, “The Realities of Russian Military Conscription”, The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Volume 24, Issue 2,2011, Pages 185 – 216.


This article investigates the various conditions, external and internal, that have determined the contemporary conscription policies of Russia, and what conditions must exist should authorities desire to move toward an all-volunteer force. It starts with a brief examination of the historical background behind current Russian conscription policy, and later looks at contemporary Russian attitudes toward service and the institution of the army. Concerns regarding Russian national security posture and fiscal constraints are then addressed. Despite a shift in mentality among Russia’s top leaders as to the orientation of their army’s posture, real fiscal conditions limit the implementation of many reforms, including a shift to a more contractual and voluntary form of recruitment. Furthermore, the harsh conditions and sometimes criminal climate that populates Russian units serves as a real deterrent to attract qualified soldiers. Not only do current political sensitivities inhibit further reform, but also it is the culture amidst the army itself that needs modernization. For now, any transition to a more contractual and voluntary form of recruitment will depend on more favorable fiscal conditions and political will to transform age old Russian military climate into one founded on basic respect for others.