President Vladimir Putin: Anatolii Eduardovich, the last time we considered the tabulation of results at the Ministry, we talked about the need for further intensification of combat training. It is my understanding that the Northern Fleet is ready to continue the work it began a few days ago.
Defence Minister Anatolii Serdiukov: Yes, in fact, from today until 3 February 2008 there will be naval exercises involving the Northern fleet in the northeast of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The goal of the exercise is first to ensure a naval presence in the operationally important areas of the world’s oceans and, second, to create the conditions necessary for the security of Russian shipping.
The fleet left Severomorsk at noon today. It comprises the heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov of the Soviet Union Fleet, the large icebreakers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, the large marine tanker Sergei Osipov and the rescue tug Nikolai Chiker. In the Mediterranean Sea this fleet will meet up with the guided-missile cruiser Moskva, the large maritime tanker Ivan Bubnov, and the mid-sized tanker Iman, as well as a rescue tug. Four warships and seven other vessels from the North, Baltic and Black Sea fleets will be involved in this exercise. Also taking part will be 47 aircraft and 10 helicopters, of which 14 are designed for strategic warfare. During the exercise there will be three tactical exercises and simulated missile attacks from the sea and the air on both land and sea targets. Boats and ships will stop at 11 ports of call, including stops to transact business and visit 6 different countries. In 71 days they will cover more than 12 thousand miles. The Commander of the Northern fleet Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov is in charge of the exercise and the leader of the strike force is Rear-Admiral Alexander Turilin.
Vladimir Putin: Best wishes for success to everyone. Seven feet under the keel!
Anatolii Serdiukov: Thank you.