Voice: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, according to tradition we serve tea in the mess room. Assembled here are officers, sub-officers, sailors on contract, and all categories of personnel.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you Captain. I would first of all like to welcome all those who serve on our strategic cruiser. And at the beginning of our conversation to thank you for your service. I will not speak in banalities: it is absolutely obvious that the peace and tranquility of our country depends on your service. But now with no further words of introduction I suggest that we discuss everything you want, beginning with the social and political situation — as we used to say — and ending with normal life, the everyday lives of sailors. And simply about how to develop our Armed Forces and navy. Please go ahead if you have any questions on this topic.
Question: The crew periodically has an ”information hour“, and the main issue of our discussions is whether the Armed Forces will be reorganised following the events…
Dmitry Medvedev: Following which events? Or do you mean in general?
Voice: In general.
Dmitry Medvedev: Our country certainly needs a capable Armed Forces, Navy and strategic nuclear forces. And we cannot rest on what has been established previously, with all due respect to the traditions and forms of organisation that existed before. What do I mean? Of course we understand that we need to create not only new organisational structures but also develop new types of weapons. In this regard I think that we will very soon take all necessary action to ensure that the structure of our Armed Forces is modern, efficient, compact, responsive — in other words conforms to contemporary requirements.
This does not mean that nothing has been done in recent times. Of course, much has been done. We have a development concept and an approved modernisation plan. But we must make periodic adjustments to our plans based on current developments.
As you know the current situation is developing quite rapidly. And recent events that have occurred in the Caucasus have pushed us to modernise our Armed Forces, weapons systems and, most importantly, to develop social support systems for personnel faster than we have perhaps done in the past.
Therefore, at the moment I see two major challenges. The first challenge is the modernisation of the Armed Forces themselves. And the second challenge is simply improving the situation of soldiers. I am referring to all of its components: wages, the opportunity to receive normal, good quality housing, both while conducting service and permanent housing. The possibility of receiving a normal range of social services when on a posting so that in general life is normal, human. Because we understand the risks associated with the work of the military, particularly those who work on submarines. I consider that these aspects should underpin the modernisation of the Armed Forces.
Question: Comrade Commander-in-Chief, can you please tell us how the serious global economic crisis and related recent developments in Russia's economy could affect the implementation of government programmes, including those relating to the development of the Armed Forces? In particular, I would like to know about the construction of multipurpose submarines.
Dmitry Medvedev: Well, the issue at hand is not the crisis but what I said in answer to the Commander’s first question. Regardless of any crisis we need to build new submarines and simply work to modernize the Armed Forces. The crisis should not affect this. We prepared to do this before and we are going to carry it out now. Our country has the necessary forces and means (unfortunately, we know that in the 1990s, a very difficult period, we — one might say — failed to modernise, to create new types of weapons, and new surface ships and submarines), and I think that at the moment we have every opportunity to do so.
Regarding the problems that exist in the world: we have a stable economy, enough material resources, and intellectual resources that this plan is not dependent on any external factor. And we are working on this right now.
The Defence Minister regularly comes and reports on new proposals. We will take all necessary decisions in this regard, regardless of any crisis.