Question: These large-scale exercises have just ended. How do you assess them, what are the results, and what do you think of the cooperation between the participating countries?
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: I think they went very well indeed. They represent a landmark event in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s development and in our cooperation in general. I would like to note what my colleagues have already pointed out, namely, that we proposed the idea of establishing this collective rapid reaction force last December at an informal summit here in Kazakhstan. Now it is October, and not only have we signed and ratified the documents establishing the force, but we have actually seen it in action together. This is the way we should work on our other integration projects too.
What did we see today? We saw how the different units work together in field operations: the combined arms units, interior ministry forces, and units from the emergency situations ministries. Everything took place in real combat conditions. This is our response to the threats our countries face today: terrorism, which knows no borders, drug trafficking, religious radicalism, and other threats we all confront today.
The exercises went off very well. I went through the timing, looked at when everything was planned, and it was all performed to the minute. How was this achieved? This is no simple feat, after all. We all know that during exercises, during military events of this sort, nothing is left to chance. They all spent two months training in the field. This was excellent practice. As they said themselves, over this time all of the soldiers and officers taking part not only became friends with each other and found a common language, but got to know each other better, became more familiar with the principles of their work, and were better able to hone their tactics and coordinate swift cooperation.
I therefore think these exercises are a new step in building up our capability to respond to today’s threats, a new step in developing our collective rapid reaction force to respond to the threats coming from complicated regions in Central Asia and other places. This will also certainly take us further along the road to integration in general.
Question: Mr President, how is work going on the Address to the Federal Assembly? Have you already decided to take on board some of the proposals you have received? Perhaps the opposition has expressed some interesting ideas?
Dmitry Medvedev: The opposition does indeed come up with some interesting ideas, and that is part of its job. As you no doubt saw, the party currently in power has also sent me this memory stick with its proposals. Many proposals have come in from parties and various public groups, from the business community and from ordinary people. They all go to the Presidential Executive Office. I see many of them myself, while looking through the proposals sent to my site, or through the information exchange on my blog. This whole process has been thoroughly organised and is running smoothly.
Of course, the main task now is to select and work through the ideas that could become part of the Address, because the Address has limited space, after all. There are perfectly realistic ideas that will not necessarily be used in the Address, but we will most certainly take them into consideration in the future.
As for the key points, I will be meeting with my Executive Office staff, officials from other bodies, and members of the Government next week to discuss with them the proposals we already have. We will look at what we can include, what the Executive Office and the Government have already come up with together. Work is thus progressing and I am happy overall with the way it is going. I think the idea of putting the Address through this kind of preliminary discussion has turned out to be constructive.
Question: You have spent almost the entire day wearing this new uniform. The other presidents also wore the new uniform. What are your impressions?
Dmitry Medvedev: True, all of the presidents wore the new uniform. I find it very comfortable to wear and it has turned out a big success. When we agreed on establishing the CRRF our colleagues proposed that Russia make a common uniform for the force. We have done so for everyone taking part. Of course, we made uniforms not just for the soldiers and officers, but for the commanders-in-chief as well. They are all well known to us, and so we knew who we were sewing for. Of course, these uniforms were custom-made.
It’s a good uniform, a comfortable uniform, but we will not use it that often, of course. The main thing is that the servicemen feel comfortable wearing it. I think this goal has been achieved, because the whole kit fits into a fairly large and light bag, includes a warmer uniform, a light summer uniform, and several types of boots for different weather conditions. So, I hope that this uniform will protect our soldiers and officers from the cold, that it will be comfortable to wear, and that it will please the bosses too.
Thank you. I wish you all a safe journey home.