* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers,
I wish you all welcome and congratulate you on successfully completing your studies.
Here, in the Kremlin’s ceremonial halls, one gets a special sense of the splendour of our country’s history and its glorious military feats. It is here that we meet to honour our military academies’ best graduates.
Our armed forces and officers’ corps have always built on our history and continued the victorious traditions of all the generations of those who defended our country. It is in this that our armed forces take their source and moral strength.
We remember how during the Great Patriotic War, appeals to our history, national values, and military traditions inspired our army and people to fight the enemy. It was at that time that the guards were revived and decorations were instituted that bore the names of legendary commanders such as Suvorov, Kutuzov, Nakhimov, and Ushakov.
Today, as we undertake our ambitious programme to develop Russia’s Armed Forces, we continue to draw on tradition, and one of our symbolic decisions was to restore the names of particularly distinguished units in the Russian and Soviet armies. I think this symbolises the unbroken continuation of our country’s history and military traditions.
It is your duty to be equal to the courage and valour of your predecessors and teach this to your subordinates. This mission requires you to be not simply a professional who knows his work well, but a true commander and mentor, who can set an example of principled and resolute behaviour.
Russia’s officers have always been distinguished by their noble character and respect for the soldiers. As the well-known philosopher Ivan Ilyin said, “the Russian army will never forget the tradition Suvorov set, which sees each soldier as an individual.” This has always been the case and always will be.
Your mission comes at a difficult time of great responsibility. Sadly, there are not fewer security threats in the world, and there are plenty of tasks before us. We need to be able to respond adequately to any potential threat and defend our national interests in any corner of the world.
We will not economise on strengthening the armed forces and raising servicemen’s status. We all know that a strong army is essential for a strong, sovereign Russia.
You therefore have a lot of hard work ahead. You are entering the armed forces at a time when we are undertaking large-scale re-equipment, giving our forces the modern weapons they need, and introducing the latest troop and unit command tactics. This places much greater responsibility on you all, and also requires much more intensive combat training. These are all tasks that will be on your shoulders. I am sure that you will be up to the job. I am counting on you.
Some of the officers here today will soon enter the ranks of the law enforcement agencies and security services. You will be responsible for very difficult areas of our country’s security, including areas such as fighting terrorism and extremism, reliably protecting our people from crime and corruption, and maintaining public law and order. This will require your professionalism, decisiveness, and ability to carry out your missions in even the most difficult situations.
Comrades, the state authorities will continue to do everything possible to give you decent conditions for your work and for your families’ lives. Our goal is to give our servicemen the highest level of social guarantees, just as servicemen in other countries receive.
The service pay reform has been completed now. Service pay has risen substantially in the armed forces and all of the law enforcement and security agencies. Military pensions have also increased noticeably and will be indexed for inflation. We will take concrete measures to improve healthcare provision, build up a network of modern military garrisons with all the needed social infrastructure, and create jobs for servicemen’s family members.
Officers who were on the waiting list for permanent housing as of January 1, 2012, will all receive housing by 2014. From there, we will provide housing according to a regular programme, without any long waiting lists, I hope. A military housing mortgage loan system has already been launched for this purpose. We will also continue our work to develop the service housing stock.
Comrades, I am sure that you will always carry out your missions to safeguard our country’s sovereignty and security, reliably protect Russia and its people, and wear your uniforms with honour.
I wish you success and I wish prosperity and happiness to your families.
I propose a toast to continuing the Russian officer corps’ military traditions. To our glorious armed forces and to a great Russia! Hurrah!