President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: First of all, I would like you to brief me on progressing with supplies of new weapons to our military, as this is a very important component in creating modern, combat-effective armed forces. We have outlined an extensive programme that is being gradually implemented. It consists of various elements, and we have made certain adjustments in order to preserve key parameters in purchasing the most important types of weaponry and military equipment. At the same time, we are paying close attention to the current financial situation.
The first issue I would like to discuss is what we have been able to do so far this year, as well as our prospects for the future.
The second topic I want to address is how things are progressing in financing housing for military personnel.
Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov: At an extended session of the Defence Ministry board [on March 17, 2009], you instructed us to additionally review our potential of purchasing the most advanced weaponry. The task was to reduce equipment repair costs, and to use the funds thus saved toward acquiring those latest models which are rather expensive. So far in 2009, we have spent an additional 26 billion rubles [around $800 million] on such purchases. I will name just a few. This year, we acquired two Su-24MR aircraft and refurbished eleven Su-25 aircraft which in fact was a full scale modernisation.
Dmitry Medvedev: In other words, these were not merely repairs; instead, new digital “brains” were installed in the aircraft. In essence, they become a new kind of plane.
Anatoly Serdyukov: Yes. At the end we get an entirely new type of the aircraft, a modernised one which meets our ideas. We have already purchased a new Su-25 and we have also made an agreement with the manufacturer for producing further aircraft at its current full capacity. It has been ten years since we have purchased these planes. Now, however, production is being renewed, and we will be purchasing as many of the planes as the plant can supply. This type of plane is a tactical bomber, and it is in high demand. It is not very expensive, but it is very effective. The demand for Su-25 was once again evidenced last August [during the military conflict in South Ossetia].
Our other purchases for the Air Force include two new Su-27 aircraft, four Mi-8, and one Ka-52 helicopters.
As for the Navy, unfortunately, we were unable to make any additional purchases. However, we have bumped up the construction of new frigates by two years, from 2014 to 2012.
We were supposed to repair the 949 project submarines in 2011, but we will now be allocating the necessary funding to do so in 2010.
Dmitry Medvedev: In other words, the new warships will be commissioned earlier.
Anatoly Serdyukov: Yes.
Dmitry Medvedev: So this means that we are rescheduling their commissioning from 2014 to 2012 for both the submarines and the submarine cruisers.
Anatoly Serdyukov: We have rescheduled submarine refurbishment (to essentially modernise them) from 2011 to 2010, and from 2010 to 2009 for the Voronezh, the Pskov, and the Tomsk (projects 949 and 945). In other words, the 26 billion rubles that had been relocated from repairs of less essential weaponry and military equipment are instead being used to overhaul the models which are currently needed the most by the Armed Forces.
Dmitry Medvedev: I think that this is a very good practice which you should continue in the future. We should not engage in pointless and often very costly repairs that essentially involve patching up holes in very old inventory. Instead, we should use the money for major overhauls, not for ordinary repairs. Thus we will acquire essentially new types of equipment. That has been accomplished to a certain degree in refurbishing aircraft. The funds should also be directed toward accelerated commissioning of new warships that are already being built and made ready for putting into operation. In addition, we must continue scheduled arms purchases.
Anatoly Serdyukov: We maintain the scope of scheduled arms purchases.
Dmitry Medvedev: The scheduled weaponry purchase should certainly remain intact. The additional purchases you reported on are made possible through the redistribution and better use of resources that were previously allocated toward repairs and maintenance.
Anatoly Serdyukov: For 2010, we have been able to reallocate additional 40 billion rubles.
Dmitry Medvedev: For overhauls instead of repairs?
Anatoly Serdyukov: Absolutely.
Dmitry Medvedev: And these funds will also be directed toward acquiring new types of weaponry?
Anatoly Serdyukov: Yes, to acquire the latest models.
Dmitry Medvedev: Well, that’s good. Indeed, it is very important.
What about housing? Is housing being actively built for military personnel?
Anatoly Serdyukov: Currently, the housing situation is as follows. We will be able to meet the goal you set of providing 45 thousand apartments.
(Next, the Defence Minister reported in detail on the progress in housing construction and acquisition for the needs of the military.)
Dmitry Medvedev: We are working toward the goal of providing housing, whether apartments or houses, to servicemen. We must meet this goal within the scheduled timeframe, so we need to apply all the efforts and resources we have available toward resolving this problem, because without proper housing our military cannot be normal soldiers or normal officers. Housing is the most important social benefit that should be provided to servicemen of Russia.
Anatoly Serdyukov: We do our best to accomplish that.
Dmitry Medvedev: Please do.