The article analyzes the current state of military reform in the Russian Federation and suggests to critically examine the existing plans for such a reform in relation to general problems of Russian post-Soviet state and society. The author states that the existing armed forces of the Russian Federation bear a heavy imprint of the Soviet (imperial) army’s legacy, therefore they are incompatible with both a new democratic political order in Russia and a novel character of military challenges and warfare. The author notes a lack of clear strategy for military reform, resistance from the military bureaucracy to changes, and overviews major assumptions which lay at the core of discussion of the reform plans. Situating the Russian case in world comparative perspective, the article refutes the assumption that the recruit army cannot be professional and that a mercenary army would solve the problem of professionalism and non-statute treatment. The author warns that mercenary armed forces could jeopardize nascent Russian democracy and would be unable to meet challenges that are specific for the Russian geopolitical and international position. In conclusion the author predicts that a new defense minister (Igor’ Ivanov) will fail to implement the military reform for it is based on fallacious assumptions and does not take into account the need of systemic changes. He proposes an alternative perspective on military reform, suggesting that a parallel army should be instituted in Russia. That army should be endowed with privileged financial support, advanced weaponry and modern military training, and above all with loyalty to the democratic regime.