MOSCOW, JUNE 10 -- President Boris Yeltsin, appearing relaxed and confident in an independence day news conference, today rejected military lobbying for more funds, saying the army instead should get on with the business of retrenchment.

Russia's generals have furiously campaigned for more money, warning of insurrections by soldiers and strikes in arms plants if the defense budget is not increased. Many observers predicted that Yeltsin, saved by the army during last fall's uprising against him, would take the generals' side.

But when a correspondent of the official Red Star newspaper today asked Yeltsin what he would do to help the 75 percent of officers' families living in poverty, the president offered little sympathy.

"The army should be more active in cutting the number of servicemen," Yeltsin said. "I cannot understand their hesitation. ... Second, it is necessary to cut orders for military equipment."

Yeltsin met with the press today to mark the fourth anniversary of Russia's June 12 declaration of sovereignty, which took place while the republic was still part of the Soviet Union. Despite reports that he was in poor health or losing interest in public affairs, the president today appeared well prepared and even jaunty, joking with reporters and answering every question with assurance.

He seemed eager, above all, to present a picture of a nation that has surmounted its worst crises and has entered a period of troubled but relatively normal politics.

"I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that a new political reality has been formed in the country," he said. "We now have an opportunity to focus our efforts on creative activities, on alleviating economic and everyday problems of average people."

Reasserting his role in economic policy-making, the president announced a series of decrees intended to spur reform. They included measures to introduce home mortgages to Russia and to regulate the wild and fraud-riddled securities market. Yeltsin said he also is preparing to allow foreign banks to assume a more active role here.

He intervened dramatically in a feud raging between two of his supporters -- his privatization chief, Anatoly Chubais, and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who wants to write his own rules for privatizing the capital's housing and industry. While rejecting criticism of Chubais as unfair, Yeltsin came down on Luzhkov's side, saying Russia's privatization chief should not interfere in Moscow.

The president also said Russia is making progress incorporating itself into the West. He said he expects to travel to Greece June 23 to sign an economic agreement with the European Union. At the next meeting of leading industrialized nations -- the Group of Seven, or G-7 -- Yeltsin said he expects to be a full partner in the political discussions, although not the economic ones.

"So we cannot say that a G-8, with Russia's participation, already has taken shape," he said. "But with respect to the political side, yes."

Yeltsin also repeated that Russia eventually will sign the Partnership for Peace protocol with NATO, although he suggested that further negotiations on conditions may be needed. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization established Partnership for Peace to strengthen military cooperation between the alliance and East European nations.

The army's lobbying for more funds comes in the context of a widespread industrial slump that has begun to cause unemployment while severely reducing the government's tax revenues. At the same time, at the urging of Western financial institutions, Russia has sought to narrow its budget deficit to tame inflation, which had reached a monthly level of nearly 30 percent.

This spring, the monthly rate fell to single digits. But the reductions in government loans and subsidies have provoked cries of pain from industry, collective farms and the army.

Marshal Yevegeny Shaposhnikov, for example, the last Soviet defense minister and a former Yeltsin national security adviser, recently warned of impending disaster caused by regional leaders' jockeying for military support, by a loss of ideological underpinnings and by "the absence of financing."

As a result, the military has requested an increase in its 1994 budget from $19 billion to $28 billion. The lower house of parliament this week voted to increase the army's budget, but only to about $20 billion.

Yeltsin today said he would support an extra $550 million for the army in "off-budget" funds. But he rejected a wholesale increase.

"We cannot, society cannot today maintain a 3 million-strong army," he said. "The whole of the Soviet Union had 3 million, and {now} Russia has 3 million servicemen. Therefore, cutting the armed forces is one of the major problems which the army itself should resolve."

Yeltsin's economic decrees are part of a new spurt of activity after a period in which he seemed to leave economic matters to the parliament and to his prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin. The president announced several days ago a package of decrees aimed at speeding the bankruptcy process so that money-losing enterprises can be taken off the state dole.

Today's decrees are aimed in part at removing one of the biggest obstacles to reform. Few Russians can afford to buy or build new housing, so workers cannot leave dying factory towns to move to new jobs. Without offering specifics, Yeltsin said home buyers will be offered credit and unfinished apartment-building projects will be auctioned off to private builders.

"It is an impermissible situation when the majority of the population cannot afford to buy an apartment," Yeltsin said.