At a meeting with military cadets of one of the best Russian military colleges, the President noted that such new world threats as terrorism, separatism, ethnic intolerance, and religious strife called for an improvement of the country’s military structures and enhancing its defence capability. This required a restructuring of the armed forces, including the introduction of contract military service. It was possible to increase the appeal of military service and draw young people into the army, according to the President, by creating favourable social and financial conditions and solving the housing problems of contract servicemen.
The President also touched on the Chechen issue, inspiring the cadets and gave a piece of his mind about the prospects for normalisation in the North Caucasus. He said, in part, that the latest developments in the country clearly showed that militants in Chechnya had unmistakably joined the world’s global terrorist network. Separatism in the republic had quickly transformed itself, and international terrorist centres set themselves objectives which have nothing in common with the Chechen people’s interests. The President pointed to basic differences between European domestic terrorist organisations and Chechen militant groups, which have constant contact with the global terrorist network.
The determined actions of the Russian armed forces had cut short the further spread of terrorism in the North Caucasus, and the problem that was now coming to the fore was that of organising peaceful life and ensuring the functioning of the republic’s bodies of authority. The President said that a Chechen minister of internal affairs would soon be appointed to take over the key functions of protecting law and order.
Following the march-past, the President, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov and Commander of Airborne Forces Georgy Shpak watched tactical classes and inspected paratroopers’ arms and equipment.
While visiting the Institute, the President presented government awards to airborne officers and non-commissioned officers. Ten people were decorated for fighting in operations to wipe out illegal militant groups in the North Caucasus.