Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon!
Today, we planned to hold a meeting of the Security Council, but later in the day, after a meeting with the Security Council Secretary and the Prime Minister, it was decided to postpone it.
Nevertheless, in the time we have we must discuss an important issue, namely, the problems of military development. We believed it was possible to postpone the meeting because, in my opinion, it will take some more time to finalise the wording of the Security Council resolution and its conclusions. I know that the heads of virtually every department have some objections. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the decisions that we will take are extremely important for the national military establishment and military development in general.
It took us over two months to prepare for the previous Security Council meeting, which discussed the future development of the Armed Forces …
… I want to tell you that Russia spends over 35% of its budgetary allocations on military departments and ministries. 35% is a lot, perhaps too much. Therefore, unfortunately, we cannot boast a cost-effective disbursement of state funding and taxpayers’ money for the functions and tasks of the national military establishment.
The discrepancy between the Armed Forces and the so-called military units of other ministries and departments is the main problem here. Apart from the Defence Ministry, 11 other security agencies have their own military units, which uphold law and order, accomplish civil defence objectives, carry out transport functions, etc. There are also construction, engineering, and road-building units, as well as industrial and research facilities employing civilians … Unfortunately, we have only a vague idea of this machine’s real scope.
Military professionalism and the ability to effectively accomplish defence-related objectives have always been and will remain the main criteria of all work in this sphere. Although we are spending colossal amounts of money on the national military establishment, defence-budget allocations are sometimes being spent on unimportant programmes which have nothing to do with the army’s combat readiness and its logistical support.
We have no right to exploit the people’s enthusiasm and heroism when tackling military tasks. We simply cannot maintain an army unless we introduce new technologies and equipment. What we need is a modern, flexible, mobile and combat-ready army.
This does not mean that we must merely reduce the size of the Armed Forces and other military units. The army must become smaller but more effective. Strengthening the military establishment’s security component is an essential condition for introducing professional military service. At the same time, we must always balance military requirements and the state’s economic capability.
Efforts to plan the operation of the entire, huge military establishment are becoming particularly important today. Our measures must be modified in line with previous proposals and decisions regarding the Armed Forces, the main element of the military establishment. What we need is long-term analytical studies to be carried out for many years ahead. The newly established expert commission headed by Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov must engage in all-out, constructive work.
Unfortunately, we are still unable to coordinate all aspects of military reform. The heads of some ministries and departments are advocating nothing but cosmetic measures.
I want to stress that we must now understand that maintaining parallel military units impairs the national defence capability and is also detrimental to the Armed Forces … The Armed Forces, which are taking responsible decisions, advocate reform and believe this is possible. But we are also considering the state’s real economic capacity and will try and find additional reserves for supporting the Armed Forces. Such reserves will be found in other ministries and departments that have military units.
… This issue has been under examination for 45 days, and I will give you another 30 days to finalise it. But I want to stress that the main parameters stipulated by the Security Council staff will be complied with.
And now the last thing. All our reforms must facilitate more effective solutions to social problems facing the army and all other ministries and departments that maintain military units. This is a highly important issue because any reform will prove impossible unless we lay out and coordinate these aspects in advance. Everything will grind to a halt in the face of unsolved social problems. Moreover, we simply have no right to put people who have served their Fatherland well for many years in a difficult situation.
This is why I want to stress that, instead of across-the-board and indiscriminate cuts, we will carry out well thought-out, calm and smooth work to streamline the activities and organisation of the Russian war machine and to improve the quality of its work. This is what our decisions are supposed to accomplish.