Security in the Middle EastRussian Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen The Russian military and political leaders are fully aware that Russia's active role in the world sets higher requirements not only for its political system but also for the predictability of Russia's participation in common endeavor to promote international security.
And we do our best to demonstrate our compliance.
Our primary contribution to the common cause is the participation in countering present-day threats and challenges, and taking part in working out a strategy for the world community to counter crisis developments.
The need to safeguard our national interests alongside with the points I have quoted form the cornerstone for activities and practices of the Russian Armed Forces.
To put it I bluntly, until late last century a handicapped social and economic reform in Russia has limited the transformation of the military machine to cosmetic reductions in force and personnel sizes.
The situation has changed only a few years ago, when Russia had embarked on political and economic stabilization, resulting in a more secure public welfare. In turn, this has enabled the military to switch from struggle for survival in their own homeland over to a full-fledged development effort.
Now, the points of departure in reforming and changing our military mechanism are the notions of defense sufficiency and a thorough consideration of prevailing geopolitical realities.
We have gone ahead with a structural change which enables us to raise efficiency of command, control and communications, allowing to take prompt strategic decisions.
Furthermore we have downsized the central military authority which from now on will be limited to 0.5% of the overall service personnel, both military and civilian. These numbers are in fact even less than the corresponding figures for any other federal executive body in Russia.
As regards the overall number of the Army and Navy, including the Railroad Troops, as of Jan. 1, 2005 it amounts to 1 million 207 thousand service personnel and 876 thousand civilian personnel.
Now one of the top priorities for the revamp of the Russian military is to switch over to the contract service.
To meet this goal we have selected about 16,000 servicemen to occupy positions of privates and NCOs. This has enabled the 42" Motorized Rifle Division deployed in Chechnya to complete during 2004 its transition to the contract service. Together with the 76th Airborne Troops Division, this unit is a second fully professional formation in the Russian military forces.
This year 40 more units with a total of 44,000 privates and NCOs will transform to the contract service.
It is expected that by 2008 the overall figure for contract serving personnel in the Russian Army will reach 70% and the term of service on the non-contractual basis will be reduced to only one year.
Another important point is that we have intensified combat practices and training in order to accommodate new patterns in warfare and fighter techniques. In doing so we will even stronger rely upon exercises which enable us to enhance quality of military training.
A real priority for us is to make sure that Army gets modern and sophisticated arms and equipment. This has always been an important pillar of our combat capability, but now quality is much more important than quantity or sheer numbers as it was in the Soviet Union times.
To facilitate this we have established a single authority in charge of armaments and equipment procurement which in the near future will acquire responsibility for the deliveries covering not only Army, but also police, militia, security services and some others.
This will no doubt contribute to better management of procurement process and improve funding of new types of hardware creation. Currently we expect that in 2005 about 300 new and modernized pieces of hardware will be delivered to the Army.
General improvement of economic situation in Russia has enabled us to approach in a very practical way such issues as improved remuneration for the military, replacement of benefits in kind with cash payments and housing. The latter is being addressed through mortgage loans and saving schemes, as well as through establishment of service accommodation facility.
Alongside with performing its direct functions, the Russian Armed Forces have been engaged in operations against international terrorist formations and also have performed peace keeping functions.
It is precisely to meet these objectives that two mountainous rifle brigades are being established within the North-Caucasian military district, which will be equipped and trained for special missions of combating terrorist groups and bandit formations in a hard-to-access alpine terrain.
The 201st motorized rifle division deployed in Tajikistan has been transformed to a Russian military base assigned to promote the collective security in Central Asia and to contribute to the military potential of the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty.
Furthermore, on February 1, 2005 a special peace-keeping brigade has been established on a fully contractual basis. It is being re-equipped with special arms and defense hardware, with its service personnel being combat-trained up to peace keeping standards. The meaning is that this brigade will be incorporated into the joint NATO-Russian program for enhanced interoperability.
Further work on development of the Russian Armed Forces will be carried out according to the following priorities:
First, preserving the Strategic Deterrence Force potential as a result of the balanced development, improvement and upgrade of missile systems and their nuclear component.
On saying this, may I emphasize the fact that we have reached understanding that Russia does not need the nuclear weapons in the amount the Soviet Union used to possess. Therefore we have no plans to boost our nuclear missile potential.
Neither are any of our new nuclear missile system developments geared against any individual country.
None the less, Russia will remain to be an important nuclear power bearing its burden of responsibility for nuclear deterrence.
Second, sufficiently raising the potential of the Armed Forces up to a point where current and perceived military threats will assuredly be warded off by means of establishment of actionable, quick deployed force units at major threat-prone areas.
Third, improving the legislative and regulatory base for the Army and Navy, including re-drafting of in-house rules related to command and control authority resulting from changes in the MoD structure.
Forth, improving research, technology and production incentives to ensure an independent development and production of strategic armaments. In doing so, we do not rule out research and production cooperation with other countries, including NATO member states.
Fifth, developing the defense infrastructures, as well as improving the legal base for the Armed Forces activity in a market economy.
And last but not the least priority is concerned with the further enhancement of the military service prestige in general and of a single serviceman social status in particular.
May I emphasize that all of these measures are a clear demonstration of political determination of the Russian leadership to bring the ongoing change in the military sphere to its logical result.
That is, to equip the Armed Forces to meet today's requirements and national security challenges, as well as to uphold Russia's international commitments for global and regional security.
In my further remarks I cannot but dwell upon some issues of global politics.
The first issue is the one of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
Russia's stance on the issue remains to be unaltered. International agreements shall remain binding for all parties, with no exception, although export controls regimes are not supposed to serve as a smoke-screen to cover up unfair competition in the arms trade markets.
In this context, I would like to express my attitude towards one of the rumors launched in this respect.
It is alleged that we in Russia have inadequate controls for nuclear weapons or their components, and those are being smuggled to Iran or North Korea.
The situation has immediately been used by certain adventurists who have delivered to the black-market in Afghanistan a few fake weapon-grade uranium containers with Russian language labels. I can demonstrate to those interested related photos, which I have already passed to friendly defense establishments.
As far as both cases are concerned no comment is needed.
Another issue is related to the North Korean statement of its withdrawal from the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
I believe we should do all we can to keep that state in the Treaty framework. For that purpose, compromise solutions will be required, first of all within the ongoing six-party talks.
Of course, we have to see official documents to this score. But if information in question proves accurate I would say that North Korea has made a wrong choice.
And we have to remember that this is a state sharing common border with Russia.
We also believe that long overdue is the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which might serve as an extra roadblock to proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The third issue is the one related to the control over the trafficking of man-portable air-defense systems, which are indeed very efficient, and which, once at the hands of terrorists, can spark off disastrous consequences.
We believe this issue shall be addressed in a comprehensive manner, through international and regional organizations as well as export control bodies.
The work already accomplished indicates that there exists potential for constructive cooperation.
This goal is also being promoted through the Russia-launched initiative known as the "Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America on Cooperation for Enhanced Control over Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems".
This document is pending for signature in a very near term.
As a result, both the US and Russia will have access to precise information on where, in what quantities and which MANPADS are about to be used.
It should be mentioned that drafting of the agreement has been completed within a shortest possible period of time, in as little as half a year. This is already an outstanding example of how we can, and need to, cooperate.
The forth issue is that of relations between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In this respect the most positive dynamics, first of all within the NATO-Russia Council, has been observed.
We are prepared to reach a new level of cooperation with the Alliance. In this sense I believe that the most promising directions are interoperability and cooperation in managing the consequences of various disasters or man-made catastrophes.
Establishing direct working contacts between the Alliance and the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty can also yield a considerable positive effect.
But of course there is enough room for perfection. Despite of the stable nature of our relations we cannot always share some of our partners' approaches concerning, for example, abuses of rights and freedoms of the Russian-speaking communities in the Baltic states. Neither are we prepared to watch the Nazi veterans marching through the streets of those new NATO members.
We will not accommodate the fact that some European states welcome and harbor international terrorists and grant visas to them.
Indeed we find it mildly speaking strange that terrorists committing horrendous crimes in Russia are continuously being referred to as insurgents.
A certain part of those "insurgents" are posted by international terrorist organizations. According to our intelligence, those who stay on a long-term basis in Chechnya amount to some 150-200 persons.
And the last point is the issue of Mideast settlement which spells challenges not only to the North Atlantic Alliance or the European Union. It equally affects our country's security concerns.
New chances for regaining momentum in peace talks between the two parties concerned have been opened up by the election earlier this year of the Head of the Palestinian National Authority.
Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should also fit well to the Road Map worked out by international mediators.
Last December, at the Interim Coordination Committee the international community expressed its interest in rendering efficient assistance to the Palestinians. It is high time pledges were translated into concrete deeds.
On its part, Russia is prepared to pursue this work. The all-round contribution to the solution of the Arab-Israeli issue will further remain to be the chief objective of the Russian foreign policy in the Middle East.
In this context, rumors circulated recently by some media alleging talks are underway for a possible sale to Syria of Russian Iskander operational and tactical missiles are absolutely inappropriate and not true.
Although under any international agreement no limitations are imposed upon deliveries of this or similar armaments, still, Moscow has not been engaged in any sort of negotiations with Damascus on that subject.
Neither do we conduct any talks concerning deliveries of MANPADS to Syria.
To conclude my remarks, I'd like to say that the Russian military and political leadership has long abandoned its illusions as to the possibility of the present-day world existence without powerful military instruments. At the same time, while raising the efficiency of the national Armed Forces, we are also well aware that it is only through joint effort of the world community, on the basis of regard of the international law principles, and mutual respect for each other's interests that we can face challenges of the time.