File - In this file photo taken on May 4, 2015, two Russian T-14 Armata tanks make their way to Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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With an aircraft carrier deployed off Syria's shores and hundreds of new jets, missiles and tanks entering service each year, President Vladimir Putin can project Russian military power on a scale unseen since Soviet times.Long gone are the days when Russia was forced through financial hardship to scrap dozens of warships and ground most of its air force. Putin's military power today stands in stark contrast to the dying days of the Soviet Union, when Russia inherited the bulk of the 4-million-strong Soviet army, conscript-heavy forces it could barely afford to feed.Russia's military has 1 million soldiers today.While all men aged 18 to 27 still face a mandatory year of military service, Russia increasingly is attracting volunteers for at least two years and building a culture emphasizing the military as a career.Russia's Defense Ministry says contract soldiers, most of them former conscripts who opt to stay, have outnumbered conscripts in the ranks since 2015 .In the past month Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, has joined land-based aircraft in bombing targets in Syria – the first attacks mounted by carrier in Russia's history.Russian forces received 35 nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, more than 240 warplanes and helicopters, and nearly 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles – a growth in Russia's arsenal unseen since Soviet times.
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