President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear comrades!
Once again I want to congratulate you and thank you for everything that you have done. Well done, you have fought nobly, effectively and with great valour. As they say, one cannot put a price on the value of the military duties that you have performed.
We did not plan to be involved in such a situation and were not expecting such a brazen, rabid escapade as the one undertaken by the Georgian authorities. But the fact that our peacekeepers with your help and reinforcements were able to react so quickly and effectively, and at times so definitively and robustly, shows that you have been very well trained.
Our armed forces have survived the crisis of the 1990s and are currently fully operational. They can carry out any sort of peacekeeping operation and protect the lives and dignity of our citizens. And I would like once again, on behalf of the leaders of our country and all our people, to thank you most sincerely for this. Thank you!
But in addition to performing military duties and participating in this operation, there are currently other issues facing our Armed Forces. I think that we will be discussing these with you today. In doing so, we must remember those of your comrades who gave their lives defending ordinary civilians who had been subjected to such barbaric attack.
I have already spoken about this and would like to say once again that the state will show its appreciation to all those who took part in this peacekeeping operation, and, for those comrades of ours who lost their lives, we will come up with effective measures to support their families. The state will take care of every single one of them: the Minister of Defence has already dealt with this issue: the relevant lists have been prepared. The necessary decisions will be taken quickly, without delay, in order to help their families.
Voice: Comrade Commander-in-Chief! In every way we would like to express our tremendous appreciation to you and to the leaders of the entire country for assuring that our military training is not just at a higher level but has made a great leap forward. And now we have new opportunities.
When the battalion was preparing to carry out its peacekeeping mission in the town of Tskhinvali, we had no problems with personal equipment. But the fighting showed that some of our equipment needs to be brought up to date in the technical sense, because our armoured personnel carriers are no more effective than the Georgian tanks. We would like to see modernisation and renovation from a technical point of view.
Dmitry Medvedev: As you all know very well, every one of you in your different capacities have in effect participated in combat operations with the superior forces of the adversary. This is irrespective of the suddenness and the intensity of the enemy aggression, which no one anticipated. Soldiers do reposition. But nobody thought that the Georgian leadership would shoot at peacekeepers and civilians, shoot at people whom they consider their own citizens. That is a curious way of attempting to unify a country.
But the superiority of your morale enabled you to efficiently and quickly deal with all the issues and carry out the tasks that your commanders set you. We do indeed have a problem, and that is weapons. In fact recently we have been able to accomplish a lot, and the provision of arms for our troops is significantly better than it was some time ago, but this is not enough.
And unfortunately this brief peacekeeping operation has clearly shown that we must deal with the weapons issue and spare no expense in doing so. Because the threat often comes from exactly where you're not expecting it, and in any case you're not expecting it to come in such an intense fashion. And in this sort of situation you quickly find out what works, what is effective and accurate, and what are unfortunately yesterday's weapons. The Georgian army has been refitted for several years now with the help of foreign advisers, primarily American.
That is a topic for another day, but in any case our Armed Forces, in order to tackle the challenges that face them, the challenges they faced in carrying out this operation, should not have inferior weapons. Let me say once again: in various areas we have been able to correct the situation, but there are still problems. Therefore the outcome of this operation will serve as the basis for new approaches to purchasing arms for our Armed Forces.
I think the Minister of Defence and his colleagues from the General Staff will examine all these issues and submit a report to me as Commander-in-Chief concerning what worked and what didn't, and what funds are necessary to ensure that our Armed Force continue to develop. But you're right, we must devote our attention to this.
Dmitry Medvedev (replying to a question from a sailor in the Black Sea Fleet): I would like you and all our comrades who serve with you in the Black Sea Fleet to know: the Black Sea Fleet will be receiving our particular attention. And let no one try to tell us how to behave: we will act in strict accordance with international agreements and in accordance with directives issued by me as Commander-in-Chief. Any sort of amateurish intervention in these matters is not going to do anyone any good.
We are ready to negotiate, but any measures taken concerning the Black Sea Fleet must be strictly based on our international agreements. We will not tolerate anything else.