Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades! Veterans! Friends! I want to wish you and all of the Russian Armed Forces’ staff and civilian personnel a happy Defenders of the Motherland Day. For many years now, this day of recognition has been more than simply a professional holiday, and has essentially become a national holiday. It is a tribute of deep respect toward all those who serve the Motherland today, who defend the sovereignty and national interests of our country, and who continue its tradition of victory.
Today, my first and most heartfelt congratulations go out to veterans of the Great Patriotic War, a truly great generation that defended our beloved land and maintained our freedom. Next year, we will be celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Victory. It is our sacred duty to care for our veterans, the people who demonstrate a good example to the younger generation of our nation’s citizens, and, of course, to preserve and defend the memory of the Great Patriotic War standing up against any attempts to distort it, upholding the truth about the decisive input of our country in the destruction of fascism and victory in the Second World War.
Dear friends. Russia, our country, does not have and has never had any aggressive intentions. But the security of our country and the safety of its citizens must be reliably guaranteed. And so, we have given and will continue to give thorough attention to the reinforcement of our defence capabilities and combat readiness of our army and navy.
Today, we are living in a very complicated world. The dramatic events in South Ossetia have clearly demonstrated that even nowadays, at a seemingly calm and modern time, a local conflict can explode into a real war. We stopped the aggressor, defended people’s lives, and prevented a humanitarian catastrophe. But we understand very well that in order to prevent similar events in the future, we need decisive, consolidated efforts from the entire international community, efforts to develop new, truly reliable approaches to ensuring international security.
I would like to emphasize that the creation of a new face for the Armed Forces is an absolute necessity in these times. The army and the navy must have the capacity to answer to modern threats, and to be compact, mobile, and technologically equipped. And despite the difficulties of our current times, we will do everything that is needed, both in terms of organization and finances. We will also continue to give our utmost attention to issues of military training and technological readiness in the future, much as we will provide a social safety net to all those who serve in the Armed Forces. Social issues are a very important element in the reforms being made in the army.
Dear friends. Military service in any country, and in our country in particular, has always been a mission of particular importance to the government, a mission carrying high moral value. Today, as always, it requires in-depth knowledge, excellent preparation, and great moral courage; it requires bravery and valour.
I would like to sincerely wish you and all of your loved ones a happy Defenders of the Motherland Day. February 23 is also special for everyone who loves you and shares with you the tribulations of military service. I wish you all good health, prosperity, and success. Thank you for your service. Have a happy holiday.