Chief of the General Staff Makarov met with foreign military attaches to update them on the military reforms.

Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov said yesterday that the new military doctrine endorsed by the Security Council declared Russia’s right to nuclear first-strike in defense of its statehood.

Makarov would not elaborate on this or other premises of the document, saying that it could only be done when the president signed the doctrine.

Speaking before foreign military attaches accredited in Moscow, Makarov said that the doctrine formulated modern threats and challenges to Russian security and that it allowed for the latest changes in the military art.

According to Makarov, five tasks of the military reforms were successfully handled in 2009. Development of units and formations to the condition of permanent combat readiness had been the first priority. Makarov proclaimed the Russian Armed Forces consisting of units of permanent combat readiness now.

Social standing of servicemen was another task of paramount importance, according to Makarov. The Defense Ministry was scheduled to receive 45,400 apartments for servicemen in 2009 and nearly 50,000 in 2010. All servicemen were to be provided with apartments to live in by 2012.

Speaking of personnel training as another task of paramount importance, Makarov said that ten training centers had been established in military districts on the basis of military academies of the arms of the military. The warrant officer corps was abolished altogether so that some warrant officers were discharged and some became noncoms. The number of general officers throughout the Armed Forces was reduced from 1,200 to 780.

Makarov reminded his audience that the Armed Forces currently included approximately 150,000 officers. About 52,000 of them were entitled to higher pays. According to the chief of the General Staff, platoon commanders would be paid 52,000 to 70,000 and divisional COs 180,000 to 200,000 rubles a month in a couple of years.

Rearmament was one of the most difficult tasks of the military reforms under way, Makarov admitted. He called it an expensive and lengthy process, one to be completed in 2020.

Where Russia’s international commitments were concerned, Makarov said yesterday that Moscow and Washington would have a new strategic arms reduction treaty ready for signing in early 2010. Makarov called START I damaging to Russian national security.

“We want a fair treaty, one that will ensure security of both signatories,” Makarov said. “Fortunately, we enjoy mutual understanding on the majority of issues.”