President Vladimir Putin:
Good afternoon, colleagues.
Sergei Borisovich Ivanov has held the post of defence minister since March 2001. You know better than I do what state the Armed Forces were in back in 2001.
Since then, not only has the degradation of the country’s armed forces and entire military life been stopped, but a new principle for forming the armed forces has been introduced and is now being actively implemented. This has enabled us to reduce compulsory military service to 18 months, as from January 1, 2007, and starting from January 1, 2008, it will be only one year. Furthermore, this new policy has meant that we no longer send conscripts to ‘hot spots’. Training and combat preparedness are now organised on a planned and ongoing basis, and these are the main tasks for a country’s armed forces in a time of peace.
A programme is being implemented to modernise the armed forces’ arms and equipment. Finally, the first real steps have been taken to resolve the social problems facing the armed forces, chief of which is providing military servicemen with housing. These are only the first steps, however, and much remains to be done in this area.
We have worked together to draw up and adopt realistic programmes for developing and modernising the armed forces and the state’s entire defence component for the period through to 2012–2015. The main task today is to implement these programmes and ensure that their goals are reached.
I think that Sergei Borisovich Ivanov has succeeded in reaching the objectives that I set for the Defence Ministry.
I have decided to raise his status within the Cabinet and expand his areas of responsibility. In this situation, he will not be able to ‘sit on two chairs at once’, as this would not be productive.
All of us, in the government and in the ministry itself, need to concentrate our efforts on how to ensure that we carry out all the plans we have drawn up. But developing the armed forces is only one part of the state and the government’s work, and an even greater task before us is that of introducing innovation into our entire economy. In this respect, it is important to combine the potential of the defence industry and the civilian sector of the economy. Sergei Borisovich Ivanov, not losing sight of the Defence Ministry’s interests, will be responsible for precisely this work.
It is my hope that the Defence Ministry, the part of it responsible for development, at least, will pay serious attention to the economic and financial aspects involved. I have therefore signed a decree today appointing a new defence minister, a civilian, who, I am sure, will be able to use his economic and financial knowledge to help the Defence Ministry carry out its plans.
At the same time, the military component, the General Staff, will be more important now than ever. I spoke about this today with Yury Nikolayevich [Chief of General Staff Baluyevsky]. I urge you all to give not just formal support to these decisions but to help the new minister in every way to reach the goals that have been set.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, colleagues, comrades and friends,
Indeed, almost six years have gone by since Vladimir Vladimirovich presented me to you here in this same room. I remember it well. Six years seems like a long time, but it has flown by as if no more than a moment, and I would like to thank you all for the support you have given me over this time. We have worked during these six years as a well-coordinated team, and we have succeeded in addressing together the urgent tasks we had before us in 2001–2002. I will not pass judgement on how good or bad our performance has been in carrying out this work, but I do think that we have made some progress in developing the country’s armed forces.
Now I will return to purely civilian duties, but I can assure you that the armed forces have come to mean a lot to me over these last six years and I will always uphold your interests and keep them at heart. As it is, in my duties I will be responsible for the defence industry, among other things, and I will try to support our armed forces through the development of industry and innovative technology. I have only one thing to ask of you, and that is that you support the new defence minister just as you supported me. We worked together as a single team for six years, and I hope, indeed, I am certain, that this will remain the case.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: As far as making use of the defence industry’s potential to help develop innovation in our economy goes, this is an entirely realistic idea – you need only look at how well our defence industry is doing on foreign markets. Our export sales of special equipment and arms set a new record of more than $6 billion last year. This shows that our defence industry is developing, and we need to capitalise on this development and make it serve the needs of our civilian economy.
Anatoly Serdyukov: Allow me to introduce myself. I am Anatoly Eduardovich Serdyukov. I was born in 1962 in Krasnodar Region. I trained in economics and later also in law. After graduating in economics, I did 18 months military service in the armed forces. I completed officers’ training and was discharged as a reserve officer. I have been working in Moscow for the last three years as director of the Federal Tax Service.