Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff, said only 11.7 percent of men ages 18-27 were eligible for service in the Russian Armed Forces, but 60 percent of them could not be drafted because of health problems, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported.
"We now have a situation when there is virtually nobody left to draft," Makarov said. "It is a serious problem and I make no bones about it."
RIA Novosti said many young people have faked medical documents or started a family to avoid the 12-month compulsory service in the army.
The candidate shortage has prompted the Defense Ministry to sharply reduce conscripts in the fall draft period. The ministry will recruit 135,850 men instead of the 250,000 to 300,000 it had planned to recruit, the ArmyRus.ru Web site said.
The shortage has been attributed mainly to demographic changes, bullying and brutal treatment of conscripts, RIA Novosti said.