President Vladimir Putin: I would like to say a few words on what I heard in the Defence Minister’s report. First of all, of course, I would like to thank the Minister for his substantial report that makes it possible to assess the state of the Armed Forces and gives a clear picture of their development prospects. This is very important and it is the first condition for resolving all the problems we face in this area.
As I said earlier, we have a very large amount of work to do. I will not list now all the tasks we have before us. To come back to the Defence Minister’s report, they include developing our strategic forces and reaching an optimum balance between the different components of the Armed Forces. I would like to say a few words about some matters that may seem of secondary importance but are nonetheless, I think, worthy of our attention.
This concerns above all the matter of legality, of ensuring that legality is observed within the Armed Forces. The Defence Minister gave a detailed and critical overview of this problem, but I see that you will also hear today a report from the Deputy Prosecutor-General, the Chief Military Prosecutor, and he will inform you on the actual situation in this area.
Comrade generals and officers, I want to draw your attention to the need to completely exclude any possible commercialisation of the Armed Forces and to ensure that the Armed Forces’ material resources are not used in any way to pursue commercial objectives that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Armed Forces’ activities and the missions the people of Russia have given the Defence Ministry. That is the first point I wanted to make.
There is another point I want to make, and in this respect I want to say that the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the Military Prosecutor’s Office will continue their inspections. This concerns the rule of law in general — the rules concerning ill-treatment of servicemen, the laws in this area must be observed. Concerning the ill-treatment of servicemen, I think this is an important matter. The Minister made it clear that sources of information wishing to cast the Armed Forces in a negative light exist. This was and always will be the case. But at the same time there are grounds for criticism of the Armed Forces in this area. What I want to draw your attention to in this respect is that the junior commanders, sergeants, that the Minister spoke about should, of course, be teachers and educators. But the Minister’s report raised another issue at the same time, namely that the Armed Forces have been so far unable to ensure that these people are of the right quality and have the right training. Of course, ensuring recruitment of the necessary people and providing them with training is the right direction to move in. But there is also a need today to bring officers back to the barracks in some places. I am not saying that they are absent in general, but in many units there are simply no officers present. This is the daily life of the Armed Forces and you know about this. I would ask you to give this matter your attention.
As for the issue of the military chairs in universities, the public needs to be provided with clear and detailed information on the steps being taken in this area. People should know in detail about what is planned and when it is planned. This way no one will have grievances, and people will be able to understand the logic of your decisions and fit their own decisions into this logic, plan their own lives with regard to the Armed Forces, their education plans and so on.
Now, concerning the issue raised by the Chief of General Staff, I think that Yury Nikolayevich [Baluyevsky] is right. We do indeed see – and not only the military is talking about this – a certain gap between the Armed Forces’ needs and the direction developments in the military industry are taking. I will certainly reflect on this matter and together with the Prime Minister we will propose an appropriate solution.