Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, what is your opinion as to the state of the Russian Space Forces and the prospects for their development?
President Putin: We are called upon to tackle tasks in this sphere. The decision on their unification was correct — the practice of today shows this. It was justified and is yielding positive results. There is the plan to develop this armed service and it is being carried out as contemplated two years ago. Our activity in this field will be directed towards moving to a new generation of space equipment, a generation with a longer craft service life. We will be working on the reduction of prices, on a switchover to new systems of information support — more effective, but lower-cost ones — more acceptable to us from the economic viewpoint, and more effective in military terms. And, lastly, one more priority line of activity in this domain is the renewal of the missile and nuclear attack warning system. Now all these lines are considered to be priority ones and quite effectively developing.
Question: How further do you think strategic offensive arms reduction will proceed, considering the US actions in Iraq?
President Putin: You know that our position and the position of the United States on the Iraq question do not coincide. Ours are different approaches, and this, of course, creates a certain unfavorable background for further work on the ratification of this agreement, but the Russian Federation is interested in this document being ratified. I have already said and want to stress it once again: we shall be working with the deputies of the Federal Assembly, and I hope we shall arrive at ratification.
Question: Weapons of mass destruction, in the first place nuclear, are increasingly proliferating in the world. Are leading world powers capable of halting this process?
President Putin: They undoubtedly are, if we bolster the system of international law and the system of nonproliferation. And this will be the more effective, the more concertedly we shall act in this sphere, which, to my mind, in the 21st century is the most important one.