President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades,
In addition to looking at a variety of important facilities and locations and participating in one of the Caucasus 2009 strategic exercises, today we will discuss the results of this strategic exercise, and analyse the more complicated aspects of its execution, the combat training that was demonstrated, its management, and the material supply. In short, we will analyse all the elements of this exercise.
I will say a few words about what else we will be doing today. The reason for all this is that we passed the National Security Strategy Through 2020 in May of this year. One of the cornerstones of this strategy is the modernisation of the Russian Armed Forces, its Army and Navy. And clearly, our goal is to ensure that our Armed Forces are mobile, effective, equipped with innovative technology, and prepared to face all modern threats. This is what we will be working on for the next several years.
I would like to specifically emphasise that we need to complete most of our work on the Armed Forces’ new features by December 1 of this year. Later, we will take on another major element of this work – equipping our Armed Forces with modern, sophisticated weaponry and military technology. Let me point out that this is the responsibility we committed to, and in accordance with my decision, 80 percent of our weapons and equipment must be modernised by 2020.
The Armed Forces’ new features should partially result from the new equipment, but that is not all. The other component of our combat readiness is providing social assistance and resolving social problems in the daily lives of Armed Forces personnel, including the improvement of pays, which is something we have begun working on with quite a bit of success. Now, we need to develop this program so that a final decision can be made.
Now, the second part of the modern Armed Forces’ social component is resolving problems with housing. We are doing a lot of construction, and the housing we build is of fairly good quality. When we visited the airborne troops stationed here today, I saw the troops’ housing, which consisted of high-quality modern buildings. In fact, all the buildings we build make good housing. This is the kind of housing that we must construct.
I would like to point out that the Ministry of Defence has committed to building 45 thousand apartments this year. That is a very high figure, and in spite of the crisis, we must fulfil this commitment entirely.
Another issue is improving cooperation between all the branches of our country’s military establishment. In this regard, regular exercises and trainings play a key role. Just now, we watched exactly that kind of exercise. I must say that our paratroopers have showed what they are capable of in intense, demonstrative military exercises. The goals were achieved, and in my view, the level of training was very high. But naturally, this form of training should not be sporadic; rather, such training needs to occur regularly, within the framework of major strategic exercises and smaller-scale exercises, which we are planning for the near future. And indeed, this year, exercises are being held throughout nearly all of Russia’s territory. We have renewed this practice. One could say that in this respect, the situation is dramatically different from how it was just a few years ago. Mr Serdyukov, how much has the overall number of exercises changed, compared to several years ago?
Minister of defence Anatoly Serdyukov: They have increased by a factor of several dozen in the last three years.
Dmitry Medvedev: So we do not really have anything to compare this to, because just recently, our overall number of exercises was puny. Now, the frequency of military exercises has grown several-fold, by a factor of several dozen, and this is good, because the key goal of these exercises is to assess the Armed Forces’ combat readiness and their abilities to perform consistently and effectively, repelling any potential aggression from any direction.
I am not even going to go back to what happened last year, what we were up against, and what obliged us to give a severe but very effective answer. I hope that this lesson will remain for a long time in the memory of those who try to disrupt the existing status quo and to solve their personal problems by violent means.
But for us the main lesson of those events is that all the different groupings within the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation must carry out full-value, constant and highly effective exercises. During the Caucasus 2009 strategic exercise various units and divisions of the Ministry of Defence, as well as a number of other law-enforcement agencies, were charged with solving a whole range of important problems. Naturally, one such challenge – and this is always true when various forces and groupings are operating together – is the functioning of a unified management system for various military units deployed in the region. And I hope that we achieved the results to which we aspired in this respect as well.