President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades, friends,
I sincerely congratulate all veterans, servicemen and civilian employees of the Armed Forces on Defender of the Fatherland Day.
For many decades, it has been our national holiday while defending our homeland and serving in the army or navy have always been considered a sacred duty. Those who chose military career are deeply respected by our people as certainly fearless individuals and true patriots.
This year, we will all be celebrating the 65th anniversary of our victory [in the Great Patriotic War], honouring those whose heroism and whose very lives will forever remain an example of selflessness and service to their Motherland, and hallowing the memory of the fallen in that horrible, bloody war. Tomorrow, after some renovation of the site, the Eternal Flame will once again burn over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Victory in the Great Patriotic War had a global significance, but this great holiday elicits most personal feelings for each national of our country – feelings of love and gratitude toward our fathers and grandfathers, as the war affected virtually our every family.
Dear war veterans, I would like to sincerely thank you for your deeds and convey to you my warmest wishes of health and vigor.
Colleagues, strengthening our nation’s defence is certainly a cornerstone of our development. Our strategic goal is to build effective army and navy that can adequately respond to contemporary challenges, counter any kind of aggression, and serve as a reliable factor of international stability.
We have a major task before us: to equip our army and navy with the latest armaments. It is imperative to focus our resources and all our efforts, as has already been done on many occasions in the past, on developing new, high-quality military technology and fully leave behind the band-aid approach of maintaining outdated weaponry. We have already had some progress, but this will nevertheless be our key challenge in the years to come.
Improving military personnel of our Armed Forces also remains a priority and military careers should be followed by people who have received proper up-to-date high quality education which meets the demands of our time, people who are capable to accomplish combat missions of the new age in the most effective way possible, people who are physically trained and morally faultless. After all, it is moral strength that always wins.
One of the most important components of modernising our Armed Forces is improving the living standards for our service men and women. The currently employed financial incentives system for the military, the so-called 400th Order, has already yielded positive results. Beginning in 2012, increased salaries will be paid to all officers in our Armed Forces.
We are doing everything to ensure that this year housing is provided to all military officers who need it, and I personally supervise the process. By the end of 2012, all our military will have on-site accommodation. No doubt, fulfilment of these social obligations will improve the well-being of your families and the overall prestige of military profession.
The progress we have seen may be rather modest at the moment, but it is nevertheless the result of major joint efforts by both the military and the authorities involved.
It is important that all the subsequent steps aimed to modernise our army and navy are made properly and timely, and I expect the Defence Ministry will ensure that.
I’d like to once again congratulate all of you on Defender of the Fatherland Day. Please pass on my sincerest wishes to your families and friends – those who share your feasts and labours, those who love you and support you in trying hour.
Thank you for your service. My congratulations.