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A member of Russia's Spetsgruppa Al'fa in the town of Byeslan, North Ossetia, 3 September 2004

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A member of Russia's Spetsgruppa Al'fa jumps from an armoured personnel carrier during the rescue operation in the town of Byeslan, North Ossetia, 3 September 2004. He wears an oversuit camouflaged in the Russian «Partizan» pattern. [Image: Maxim Marmur/AFP/Getty Images.]

National flag: Russian Federation

Российская Федерация

Russia
Russian Federation

The Russian Federation is a transcontinental country, which extends across much of northern Eurasia. It is a semi-presidential republic, which comprises 83 federal subjects. Russia shares land borders with the following countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast'), Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast'), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It is also close to the U.S. state of Alaska, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Japan across relatively small reaches of water (the Bering Strait, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and La Pérouse Strait, respectively).

camouflage patterns of the Russian Federation

Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has discussed rebuilding a viable, cohesive fighting force out of the remaining parts of the former Soviet armed forces. In keeping with its emphasis on the threat of regional conflicts, the new Russian doctrine calls for a Russian military that is smaller, lighter, and more mobile, with a higher degree of professionalism and with greater rapid deployment capability.

The challenges of carrying out reforms and modernizing were magnified by difficult economic conditions in Russia during the 1990s, which have resulted in reduced defence spending. This led to training cutbacks, wage reductions, and severe shortages of housing for other social amenities for military personnel, with a consequent lowering of morale, cohesion, and fighting effectiveness. However, with injections of funds over the past few years, some aspects of the situation are improving.

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