President Vladimir Putin: Dear comrades,
I would like to congratulate you once again on your new ranks and appointments.
I recall at this moment how in these very halls a few years ago we held discussions with our partners on the Americans’ decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
I will not go back over all the details, but the reaction to our discussions then had a continuation in the discussions our American partners had with their allies. I remember how one of our extremely agreeable partners, one of the few genuinely very agreeable partners among the U.S. officials, Colin Powell (at that time U.S. secretary of state), said to the Europeans: “What are we arguing about? What missile defence? Defence against what? They – that is us – don’t have anything left now. They’ve got no missiles either now, just a load of rusting metal, that’s all. This whole dispute is purely theoretical”.
With the Armed Forces in the state they were in at that time, with what was essentially an ongoing civil war being waged, continued bloodshed in the Caucasus and the country’s national wealth being robbed on an unprecedented scale as millions of people looked on, the picture appeared to be of a country with no future ahead of it.
But dramatic change has been achieved over these last years, and this is thanks to your efforts too.
I very much hope that every one of you, each in your own post, will perform in full your duty towards your country, your colleagues, and your people.
I congratulate you on your promotions and wish you success.
All the best!