President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear comrades!
I would like to say a few words before our meeting. You preside over one of the largest of our military districts. In recent years, this district has been repeatedly judged to be the best in the Armed Forces and, according to reports I have received, by virtue of the results achieved in military training over the past year has continued to occupy a leading position.
The district comprises 14 regions of the Russian Federation, in which more than 20 million people live. In fact, you are responsible for the defence and security of a third of our territory: Western and Eastern Siberia, the Trans-Baikal and the North. And, of course, the combat readiness of the troops entrusted to you determines the level of protection of our borders, our regions and our citizens.
The challenge facing you today and for that matter facing all of us is to optimise the composition of our combat forces and create a new image of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Of course such a challenge always involves improving the quality of our soldiers' training. The military formations in the district are spread out over thousands of kilometres. And this of course makes special demands on the entire system for managing troops. It must be modern and it must be mobile. This includes management mechanisms and agencies that must provide a high level of coordination, a high level of service. The problem of effective interaction with colleagues from neighbouring states is also relevant here. This is not an easy task but it is a very important one. I know that in recent years you have held joint exercises on numerous occasions. And last year such joint exercises took place. I think that we need to work on this sort of cooperation, and here of course I primarily have in mind our traditional allies, the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. As you are aware, the CSTO has recently made some very important decisions, and in all likelihood we will also conduct this kind of exercise in the very near future, once preparations are complete.
Dear colleagues, today we will be discussing the pressing issues and urgent problems of the Siberian Military District, and of course the modernisation of the army as a whole. But of course on the eve of Defenders of the Fatherland Day, I would like to heartily congratulate you and the entire personnel of the district on our upcoming national holiday. We all understand what this holiday means and how difficult and complex military service is, especially in Siberia and the Far East, in remote outposts and distant garrisons. Our people must not only know our traditions but also deeply respect our army and understand the complexity of the soldiers' and officers' tasks. It is very important that the best traditions are still preserved at the initial level, in the Suvorov and Nakhimov military academies and the cadet corps. And of course the most important thing is that in our society the army's standing must be irreproachable. We went through a very difficult period in the 1990s. You served during this period too, so you remember well what happened. Now things are again difficult, especially in the context of the current economic crisis, but in recent years we have managed to achieve enough so that we now have more start-up capacity, and more resources generally. And our goal is to not fall back in any way.
I just talked with our soldiers, with the boys who are receiving training in the centre. They also asked about what will happen and how. Of course, the main thing now is to preserve the main achievements of recent years: retain the capacity to finance new weapons programmes and purchase of new equipment, which will provide a new image for the Armed Forces of our country. On the other hand it is necessary to preserve and develop all sorts of social guarantees that exist today and realise the task we set ourselves, the transition to forces that are permanently combat ready and the sort of financing appropriate for such forces.
Let me once again congratulate you all on the coming holiday, wish you success in the service, wish your families the best of luck, and wish you the best of health, the sort of health that those of you who serve in the Siberian Federal District need – you know what I am talking about.