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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
We are here today to review the Defence Ministry’s results for 2012, and of course to discuss military development’s future plans and tasks. I would like to say a few words about several key issues.
There were changes among top officials of the Defence Ministry and General Staff a few months ago. The new defence minister and the new Chief of General Staff are both hard at work now and are relying on the officer corps’ support in their undertakings. This is an essential condition for the Armed Forces’ effective development.
”Our goal is to create modern, mobile and well-equipped Armed Forces that can respond rapidly and adequately to all potential threats, guarantee peace, and protect our country, our people and our allies, and the future of our state and nation.“
The Armed Forces have been going through a difficult and at times painful modernisation process over recent years. There have been big changes in command systems at the tactical and operations levels. Military training has become far more intensive in all branches of the Armed Forces, and our Air Force and Navy now once again have a constant presence in strategic parts of the world.
The Armed Forces are getting supplies of the latest equipment and arms now in series production. We are in the process of modernising military infrastructure, including bases, airfields, and air and space defence facilities.
The authorities have carried out in full the programme to substantially increase service pay and have also increased military pensions.
Of course there are problems too, as you know. Looking back over all the fundamental military reforms our country carried out in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we see that it was never possible to build an ideal model overnight. In some cases it was necessary to try several different approaches before striking the right balance. Today too, we are making some adjustments and clarifications to our military development plans and will continue to do as required.
This is a complex process overall. We certainly cannot use one-size-fits-all models, but at the same time I stress too, that we cannot constantly chop and change. Once made, decisions must not be constantly changed. This is all the more important now that we have reached the stage of polishing and fine-tuning the many components in this complex military machine.
Each innovation has to graft itself naturally into place in the Armed Forces through actual practice. Let me add that we will succeed in achieving our goals only if we continue to rely on our own traditions, the military development experience our country has already built up, and the professionals who are devoted to the Armed Forces.
”The changing geopolitical situation requires rapid and considered action. Russia’s Armed Forces must reach a fundamentally new capability level within the next 3–5 years.“
Our strategic course for modernising the Armed Forces and our entire military system remains unchanged. I stress this point. Our goal is to create modern, mobile and well-equipped Armed Forces that can respond rapidly and adequately to all potential threats, guarantee peace, and protect our country, our people and our allies, and the future of our state and nation.
The changing geopolitical situation requires rapid and considered action. Russia’s Armed Forces must reach a fundamentally new capability level within the next 3–5 years.
We see how instability and conflict are spreading around the world today. Armed conflict continues in the Middle East and Asia, and the danger of ‘export’ of radicalism and chaos continues to grow in our neighbouring regions.
At the same time, we see methodical attempts to undermine the strategic balance in various ways and forms. The United States has essentially launched now the second phase in its global missile defence system. There are attempts to sound out possibilities for expanding NATO further eastward, and there is also the danger of militarisation in the Arctic.
All of these challenges – and they are just a few of the many we face – are of direct concern to our national interests and therefore also determine our priorities.
These priorities include, above all, close integration in Eurasia, consolidating the Common Economic Space and moving toward establishing the Eurasian Economic Union. This also includes deepening our partnership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and in the BRICS group.
We should help develop a multipolar world. We can do this by developing collective response mechanisms to potential regional security threats, including by bolstering the Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s military component.
As you know, the Russian Federation Defence Plan through to 2016 was approved in January. It forecasts developments in the military and political situation. It also formulates a unified defence policy that includes military, economic, information and other aspects and sets out the main tasks for strategic deterrence, preventing military conflicts from arising, and resolving the main mobilisation issues.
”We should help develop a multipolar world. We can do this by developing collective response mechanisms to potential regional security threats, including by bolstering the Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s military component.“
Over the coming period we must fully complete the construction of an integral military strategic planning system. I ask the Defence Ministry to present the new draft of the military planning regulations for approval.
Furthermore, over the course of this year, the General Staff must set its basic policies and conceptual foundations for organising our country’s defence over the 2016–2020 period. This plan must be drawn up in full detail within the next two years.
What do I consider the key issues of greatest importance for the Armed Forces’ development over the coming years?
First, we must complete the work to establish full-fledged forces in all strategic areas. All units must be permanently combat ready.
Second, we must be able to meet in full the Armed Forces’ manpower requirements for privates and sergeants within the next 2 years. Let me stress in this connection that the length of compulsory military service will remain at 12 months and is not subject to review.
This means that we have to increase the number of professional contract soldiers. We also are to develop training for officers, sergeants, and privates, taking into account the different requirements in the Armed Forces and ensuring stable and regular functioning of the various training centres and military academies.
Third, as I said, military training has become a lot more intensive over these last years. Now it is necessary to raise its quality and raise the standards every soldier and commander has to meet.
The General Staff recently put to the test a number of units’ readiness for rapid military deployment. I ask you to analyse the results very thoroughly and put this experience to active use in organising training. The Defence Minister has already given me a detailed report.
”We must complete the work to establish full-fledged forces in all strategic areas. All units must be permanently combat ready.“
Overall, I think that the exercise showed at the minimum a satisfactory, even good level of preparedness, at least among the units involved. They should receive the appropriate commendation.
Combat training should not be a classroom exercise with the soldiers knowing half a year in advance about the upcoming battle alert. It should be as close as possible to modern battle conditions and what conducting modern warfare is all about. This includes operations in unfamiliar territory, rapid long-distance manoeuvres, and combat coordination of the different branches and troops involved.
Organisation of the Zapad-2013 strategic exercises is to follow this logic. You should put new weapons to the test in the field, and put troop command systems and coordination of the different units to the test too. This is especially important given the communications problems we have had. I ask you to give this issue your particular attention.
Fourth, all approved decisions on new equipment for the Armed Forces must be carried out in full. We held a number of meetings last summer specifically to set the priorities in this area for each branch of the Armed Forces, and to set the deadlines for equipment and weapons deliveries.
I instruct the Defence Ministry to keep strictly to the State Arms Procurement Programme’s terms and stay in close contact with the defence industry companies, with each individual plant and design bureau, and get to the bottom of each delay or problem with carrying out defence procurement contracts.
New-generation weapons should account for 30 percent of the total by 2015, and for 70–100 percent by 2020. Let me stress too, that almost all of these weapons and equipment will be produced at national defence companies. We are carrying out internal restructuring and building consolidated organisations in the defence industry precisely for this purpose. They already account for more than 60 percent of total military production.
”New-generation weapons should account for 30 percent of the total by 2015, and for 70–100 percent by 2020. Almost all of these weapons and equipment will be produced at national defence companies. We are carrying out internal restructuring and building consolidated organisations in the defence industry precisely for this purpose.“
Arms deliveries will increase. The Defence Ministry’s job is to put them to timely and effective use. This means not only learning how to use these weapons in battle, but also how to service, repair and store them properly. Colleagues, you must give them the proper care. In this respect, I ask you to pay particular attention to establishing a system for operation and maintenance within the units.
Fifth, we must develop a system of advanced research and development in the military technology area over the next two years. We have to put our development efforts into the leading scientific schools working on the theory of developing and using the armed forces in modern conditions, and support the work of military science centres, including those involved in developing drones and other promising advanced technology. All of the major world powers are working on this kind of research. Not only must we not lag behind, but we must be at the forefront.
Colleagues, we have done a lot of late to bolster social guarantees for military service personnel. We are resolving the housing issue: more than 100,000 families have received homes over the last three years, 49,000 of them last year alone.
Furthermore, since 2005, servicemen have used the housing mortgage system to buy another 20,000 homes. I think that all of you here realise we never had such progress as this in resolving the housing problem over Russia’s recent history, and probably not in the Soviet period either.
But there are still quite a few servicemen’s families in line to receive permanent housing and we must completely eliminate the queue and provide housing to everyone. We should move fast to accumulate sufficient service housing stock.
From here, as we agreed, regular procedures will take effect for providing housing to servicemen and people retired from military service. There should no longer be such a thing as an officer with no home of his own.
The state of military garrison towns is a very important issue. It is unacceptable that someone’s negligence and irresponsibility should leave some garrisons without sufficient fuel and heating through the winter because of boilers breaking down, only recently repaired what’s more, or because unpaid bills have led to the electricity supply being cut off.
The Defence Ministry is to investigate each such case and bring order to this area. The problem is a complex and costly one of course. These garrison towns are often in a poor state of maintenance. The Defence Ministry does not always need them anymore. In such cases they should be transferred to municipalities and put into order.
”Decent service conditions, public prestige of military professions, respect for servicemen’s families, and social protection are all essential conditions for effectively developing our Armed Forces.“
The municipalities do not want to take them on in their current state. But we have to take action and settle this problem. People live in these places. Even if they no longer have ties to the Armed Forces now, they used to serve and work in the Armed Forces, worked for the state, and we cannot just abandon them to their fate now.
I remind you that we have approved a programme for developing the military garrison towns for 2013–2014 and for the longer term through to 2017. This plan will organise troop garrisons on a modern basis and must be implemented in timely and quality fashion.
The garrisons must receive not only housing, barracks, and special facilities, but also all of the everyday services, social and transport infrastructure required to ensure a comfortable life for servicemen and their families. Servicemen should know for certain they are full-fledged citizens of this country and have access to all the comforts of modern civilisation.
Decent service conditions, public prestige of military professions, respect for servicemen’s families, and social protection are all essential conditions for effectively developing our Armed Forces. This is something we must never forget.
In conclusion, I want to thank all servicemen for their service to our country. I expect you to work effectively on reaching the set objectives, developing the Armed Forces and strengthening Russia’s defence capability, and I wish you success.
Thank you very much for your attention.