President Vladimir Putin:
Plans to deploy new American bases in Eastern Europe are going ahead ever more actively. Ratification of the adapted Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe has been delayed to such an extent that Russia has been forced to suspend its participation in the Treaty and its associated international agreements. There is no need for me to remind this audience that when the treaty was first signed it was based on the existence of two blocs – NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Now almost all the countries of Eastern Europe have joined NATO. The situation has changed radically but some countries, such as the Baltic states and some of the Balkan countries have not even signed the adapted version of the Treaty. As far as the three Baltic states are concerned, they still appear as the earlier version of the Treaty designated them, that is, as the Baltic Military District. Perhaps I should appoint one of you district commander? This has all created a situation in obvious contradiction with today’s reality. It is precisely for this reason that Russia, as I said, has been forced to suspend its participation in this Treaty and the associated agreements.
The growing imbalance is not limited to conventional weapons. There are plans to deploy components of a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Essentially, the Americans will be deploying elements of their strategic weapons systems in Europe for the first time. Meanwhile, we have still received no answer to the alternative proposals we have made regarding defence from hypothetical – and I stress that they are hypothetical – missile threats.
In this context, the priority for our military development at this stage is to bolster our Armed Forces’ combat readiness, equip them with modern weapons and military equipment and create dual-use system such as GLONASS, for example. Our Armed Forces’ growing potential should be rigorously tested through all manner of military exercises and training.
The state is continuing to build up the social guarantees for servicemen. Wages paid for duties and rank will be raised in December 2007 and in September 2008. Progress is being made in resolving one of the longest-running and acute problems – the housing problem. By 2010 we should be able to provide permanent housing to all servicemen who signed contracts before January 1, 1998. I note too that we are continuing to develop the military insurance, education and medical assistance systems and that military service is generally gaining in prestige.