President Vladimir Putin:
Comrade generals, admirals, officers,
We are here at this annual meeting in the Defence Ministry to sum up the results of work over this last period and outline measures for the Armed Forces’ ongoing modernisation.
I would like to say from the outset that we have achieved some good results and that genuinely new steps have been taken in a number of areas. Our strategic aviation has resumed regular patrols and military exercises have resulted in improvements to the way we use our army and naval groups in different areas. Operational and military preparedness training has been carried out more intensively. Our cooperation with our allies, above all through the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, has developed at a good pace. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation showed its growing defence potential in action at the exercises at Chebarkul test ground in August this year.
But these good results do not exempt us from the need to continue our work on all the main areas of military development. As you know, the situation remains unstable in a number of regions around the world. Terrorist and extremist groups continue to pose a serious threat, as do hot spots located close to Russia’s borders.
We see that some members of the NATO alliance are building up their military potential close to our borders in violation of previous agreements. At the same time, Russian proposals, for example, the proposal to develop a common missile defence system, which, I especially want to stress, would give all participants an equal part in its command, are left, unfortunately, without response. Of course, we cannot remain indifferent to what is a clear case of muscle-flexing.
This situation obliges us to take adequate measures, one of which is the Russian Federation’s decision to suspend its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. I stress that this is a necessary measure we have been obliged to take. We will take no unilateral action. Our partners in this treaty have not ratified the treaty’s adapted version, and some countries have not even signed it yet. A fine picture it makes: how many years are we to continue unilaterally fulfilling our treaty commitments while others watch on? As soon as our partners ratify the adapted version of the treaty Russia will review the possibility of resuming compliance with its commitments. But we cannot simply continue the current situation forever. We cannot wait who knows how long.
We realise that individual decisions, even very important decisions, are not enough on their own to ensure the all-round modernisation of our country’s defence potential and ensure the Russian Federation’s security. Armed Forces that are mobile and equipped with the very latest equipment and technology remain the main guarantee of our country’s security. Only truly professional and modern Armed Forces can give our country reliable security guarantees and defend it from potential threats.
Increasing the combat readiness of our strategic nuclear forces is one of our biggest tasks. These forces must be able to deliver a rapid and adequate response to any aggressor. The general purpose forces, for their part, have the mission of looking for new ways to neutralise security threats to our country at an early stage.
We need to continue work on modernising the army and navy’s equipment. As you know, the state arms procurement programme through to 2015 allocates considerable funds for this work. The emphasis will be on a new and effective arms and equipment system.
Planned work to bolster the Armed Forces’ human resources potential is another key area. Success in this work depends a lot on modernisation of the military education system. We need to optimise the network of military academies and establish important research and teaching centres. It is our duty to preserve the best traditions of our country’s military training system while at the same time drawing on the best in other countries’ military training experience. I note too that military education reform programme should be coordinated with the national project in the education sector. This will enable us to supply the Armed Forces with new highly professional personnel and raise the competitiveness of military research and our military academies overall.
Finally, we must not forget about the importance of raising the prestige of military service and strengthening discipline and the moral spirit among the troops. I remind you that I recently signed a decree that brings new general regulations in the Armed Forces into force as from January 1, 2008. These new regulations clearly define the status of military servicemen and for the first time set out the constitutional norm that no one has the right to restrict them in their rights and freedoms guaranteed by our country’s Constitution.
I would like to say a few words separately about development of the social system in the Armed Forces. As you know, servicemen’s wages will rise by 15 percent as from December 1, 2007, and there will be another 15-percent increase as from September 1, 2008. This policy will continue. I do not think that this is enough given the fact that inflation is rising at the moment. A decree was issued on October 18 on paying off arrears for the period from January 1, 1995 to February 28, 2008, to military pensioners. The aim of this decree is to right the injustice that arose in the mid-1990s when servicemen’s wages rose but military pensions (under invented pretexts, it must be said), remained unchanged.
A well organised and guaranteed rear is an important factor in raising the Armed Forces’ combat readiness and raising the prestige of military service. We will continue to work hard on resolving the social and housing issues affecting servicemen. The number of servicemen on the list for housing has been reduced by almost 18 percent over the last 18 months. There are still a lot of servicemen who do not have housing – 130,300. We have allocated more than 13,000 apartments through the additional provision programme, 15+15 (15 and 15 billion). This programme is being implemented successfully and is in the process of completion. It is important now to move on to the next stage and provide our servicemen with permanent housing, as we promised to do by 2010, and with service housing by 2012. We also need to raise the quality of housing construction. The Prime Minister and I just discussed these issues. We need to change the standards, especially in the regions where we have an interest in encouraging people to stay. The issue of developing mechanisms for an accumulation-based mortgage system is also still on the agenda. I repeat that this system must be introduced universally starting in 2008, and not just be carried out as pilot projects.
Colleagues, you as the command staff have an exceptionally important part to play in the Armed Forces’ modernisation. You must show competence, responsibility and the ability to respond rapidly in the areas of which you are in charge, and in this way contribute to developing genuinely modern and combat-ready Armed Forces. I would like to thank you all for your service and I hope that you will continue to carry out your missions in worthy fashion. Thank you.