Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Today we must make a decision on reforming the military organisation of the state, its inner structure and optimisation of its budget and troop strength.
We have taken a long time to prepare the discussion thoroughly, and rightly so because the price of the issue in the direct and figurative sense is very high and the tasks are formidable: the issue is directly connected with the country’s security, the army, and the fate of hundreds of thousands of servicemen, therefore our calculations should be extremely thorough and our forecasts must be accurate.
At a meeting on September 27 as part of preparations for this meeting of the Security Council we agreed in principle on the main thing: to preserve the approaches and parameters worked out by the expert commission headed by Sergei Borisovich Ivanov, and we arrived at optimal agreed decisions. True, corrections were being made until the last moment: we have just been discussing the draft resolution with the Government Chairman, and the Government has some remarks and we will deal with them during the course of our discussion.
To maintain a cumbersome and sometimes ineffective military organisation is wasteful and wrong in every sense and under our present conditions, one can say more, it is absolutely inadmissible. It is our duty not to disperse but concentrate both the functions and the assets for performing them and use the saved resources to strengthen combat capability and address the social problems of servicemen. As a result we should put in place a solid system of control, enhance discipline in the Army and in all paramilitary structures in the country. As a result, we should get a leaner and therefore more mobile and professionally strong army.
That ideology of reforming the military organisation of the state must remain in place. We should confirm that position, but the particularly complicated and important nature of the issue called for additional work on specific mechanisms, which is what we have been doing lately, and it called for a thorough calculation of all the decisions. In particular, the departmental systems of technical and logistical support, military training and education received further attention. We had to seek reserves and eliminate overlaps in the activities of the country’s military and security agencies. There were some other outstanding problems on which additional work was needed.
It should be noted that much, of course, has already been done. The heads of the security and military agencies have done their homework. The arguments were heated and sometimes difficult, I speak without exaggeration. But that is good because the discussion in the process of preparation for this meeting of the Security Council was a discussion of deeply committed people, people who are dedicated to the business that has been entrusted to them. We are now ready to set forth our final position in detail, to argue our case and discuss everything thoroughly and arrive at the only correct decision.
True, some outstanding issues remain. In the first quarter of next year we will discuss the system of national security agencies because the problem of public security should be approached with similar thoroughness. I think in the second half of 2001 one of the meetings should be devoted to Russian government policy in consolidating the system of public security.
Considering the crime control situation and the generally low level of public security in the country (unfortunately we still have to admit it, although the Interior Ministry has done a great deal lately), I think this issue will be extremely relevant today too. I think it would be right if we include this provision in the Security Council resolution today.
Another important issue I would like to touch upon is the military budget. Allocating funds for military reform is not everything, important though it is. All the funds disbursed must, first, reach the military agencies strictly on schedule, they should be disbursed without fail and in the amounts decided on by the Security Council, otherwise this attempt to implement reform of the military will be doomed to failure too.
We have done a great deal to prepare for this Security Council meeting. It is not by chance that I said that the heads of the “power agencies” have had long and occasionally difficult conversations among themselves and with the Government and the Security Council members. All these were difficult decisions, but if we are making them they should be absolutely well grounded and they should be fulfilled.
Another and equally important thing is targeted and rational spending of the funds, and I would like to draw the attention of the heads of the military and security agencies to it. The apparatus of the Security Council and the Government must together organise close and permanent monitoring and use all possible levers for that. Sergei Borisovich (addressing Sergei Ivanov), please, pay special attention to this.
In conclusion I would like to repeat that today we will not confine ourselves to discussion, today we must draw the line and make a final decision on the military organisation of the state, the future of the Army, of the military as a whole and hence the security of Russia. We have had long discussions, we have covered a long way before we reached these decisions – that is it, time has run out, we must pass the decision today.