The informal meeting was held during a break in an annual gathering of top commanders of the Russian Armed Forces. The participants exchanged opinions on topical issues of developing the Armed Forces.
Mr Putin called on the gathering to specify the priorities of the Russian defence policy with an account for international terrorism, which threatened the entire system of strategic stability. It was necessary to take into account terrorists’ desire to get hold of mass destruction weapons, while bioterrorism had already become a fact of life, the President said.
He was convinced that the priorities of defence policy needed specifying also in the sphere of international military and military-technical co-operation—a task that demanded teamwork with the other members of the anti-terrorist coalition and with countries outside it.
Mr Putin dwelt on terrorism in Chechnya to point out that the problem could not be settled without effective participation of the army. He described the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya as timely, correct and well grounded. Now that the situation in the republic had thoroughly changed, military units permanently deployed there were to become a guarantee of stability and public safety in the region, he said.
Mr Putin highlighted four essential goals of defence policy for the next year—to re-arrange priorities with an account for the new threats to national security, to improve the management of military development and concentrate resources in priority fields, to streamline the structure of the Armed Forces and thoroughly enhance their combat readiness and operational training, and improve social welfare of the personnel.
Mr Putin considered 2001 a year that had largely determined Russia’s military organisation. Such basic strategic documents as the national security concept and the military doctrine were adopted within the year. The mechanism of implementing the military reform was appointed for the period up to 2005. Strategic decisions were drafted to consolidate and modernise the Russian military-industrial complex. The President also pointed out an improvement of the military-technical state of the troops, their professionalism and, last but not least, morale. Mr Putin regarded the latter factor as extremely important.