Ukraine must have a fully professional army by 2015, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

"We are planning to complete by 2015 the full transition of the Ukrainian military forces from a mixed recruiting system to a new model based solely on contracted service," the ministry quoted head of the personnel policy department Maj. Gen. Serhiy Kropyvchenko as saying.

Ukraine has long been making plans for a transition to a fully professional army, but low defense budgets (currently only 1% of GDP) have hampered the process.

At present, over 52% of the military personnel in the country's 200,000-man Armed Forces are professional soldiers.

Ukrainian soldiers also serve under NATO command in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean.


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