Vladimir Putin spoke at an expanded meeting of the Board of the Defence Ministry, which was held at the National Defence Control Centre

Meeting of Defence Ministry Board

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December 21, 2022

Before the meeting, the President visited the exhibition of modern and future samples of equipment, arms, ammunition and means of protection for the troops in the various branches. The President was accompanied by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The exhibition was held in the atrium of the National Defence Control Centre.

 

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrades,

This annual meeting of the Board of the Defence Ministry is taking place at a very important time in the country’s life. The special military operation continues. Today, we will discuss key army and navy development areas based on the experience gained in combat operations.

First, I would like to convey my most sincere words of gratitude to our soldiers and officers who are now on the front lines or at military personnel training centres. All of them are fulfilling their military duty with dignity, risking their lives, sparing no effort and providing cover for their fellow soldiers when necessary.

And, of course, today we must commemorate our comrades-in-arms who gave up their lives for the Motherland.

Colleagues,

It is well known that the military potential and capabilities of almost all major NATO countries are being widely used against Russia.

Still, our soldiers, sergeants and officers are fighting for Russia with courage and fortitude and are fulfilling their tasks with confidence, step-by-step. Without a doubt, these tasks will be fulfilled in all territories of the Russian Federation, including the new territories, and a safe life for all our citizens will be ensured. Our Armed Forces’ combat capability is increasing day by day, and we will certainly step this process up.

I would like to once again thank everyone who is fulfilling their combat duty today, including tank crews, paratroopers, artillerymen, motor riflemen, sappers, signalmen, pilots, special operations forces and air defence troops, sailors, military topographers, logistics support specialists, National Guard personnel and other formations for the way you are fighting. You are fighting – you know, I am not afraid to use these comparisons, and these are not some turgid words – like the heroes of the War of 1812, the First World War or the Great Patriotic War.

Special words of gratitude go to the military doctors who are bravely, often at risk to their own lives, saving our soldiers, and military and civilian construction workers who are building fortifications and vital infrastructure in the areas covered by the operation and for their help in rebuilding civilian sites in the liberated territories.

Meanwhile, the hostilities have highlighted issues that need our special attention, including issues we have discussed more than once. I am talking about communications, automated command and control systems for troops and weapons, counter-battery tactics, target detection, and so on.

This is the combat experience that we must and we will use in the further development and build-up of the Armed Forces.

Today, our goal is to implement the entire scope of necessary measures to achieve a qualitative renewal and improvement of the Armed Forces.

I would like to draw your special attention to the following.

We are well aware of all the NATO forces and resources that they have been using against us over the course of the special military operation. You have all the information, and it should be carefully analysed and used to build up our Armed Forces, as I have said, to improve the combat capabilities of our troops, as well as our national special services.

Our units have gained extensive combat experience during this special operation.

The job of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff, as I mentioned, is to carefully analyse this experience, systematise it as quickly as possible and include it in the programmes and plans for personnel training, training troops in general and supplying the troops with the necessary equipment.

In addition, the experience of the special military operation, as well as what our troops gained in Syria, should, as I have said, pave the way for a major improvement in combat training, and should be applied in our preparations and in our exercises and training at all levels.

In turn, officers and sergeants who have shown exemplary achievements during the special military operation should be promoted to higher command positions as a matter of priority, and be the prime personnel reserve to be admitted to military universities and academies, including the General Staff Academy.

Second. I would like to draw the attention of the Government, the Defence Ministry and other agencies to the need to cooperate closely at the Coordination Council, which is a specially created platform. You should also cooperate with the heads of regions and representatives of the defence industry.

I also expect our designers and engineers to continue the practice of visiting the frontline. I would like to express my gratitude to them for making regular trips and making the necessary adjustments to the equipment. I hope that they will continue the practice of checking the tactical and technical characteristics of weapons and equipment in real combat situations and, as I have already said, of improving them.

In general, it is necessary to conduct substantive work with related ministries and departments. We are seeing what works really well and what needs additional efforts. Engineers, technicians and scientists are seeing this. And this entire machine is working. When I said we are improving and will continue to improve our armaments and equipment, I had in mind this process as well. The Military-Industrial Commission must become a headquarters for the interaction of the defence industry, science and the Armed Forces with a view to resolving both urgent and future tasks, primarily related to military-technical supplies for the troops. I am referring to equipment, ammunition and so on.

The third point. We will continue maintaining and improving the combat readiness of the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved.

This year, the level of modern armaments in the strategic nuclear forces has already exceeded 91 percent. We continue rearming the regiments of our strategic missile forces with modern missile systems with Avangard hypersonic warheads.

In the near future, Sarmat ICBMs will be put on combat duty for the first time. We know there will be a certain delay in time but this does not change our plans – everything will be done. Our troops continue receiving Yars missiles. We will continue developing hypersonic missile systems with unique characteristics, unmatched in the world. In early January of next year, the Admiral of the Soviet Fleet Gorshkov frigate will start combat duty. I will repeat, it will carry cutting-edge Zircon sea-based hypersonic missiles without equal in the world.

We will continue equipping our strategic forces with the latest weapon systems. Let me repeat that we will carry out all of our plans.

Next. It is important to enhance the combat capabilities of the Aerospace Forces, including the numbers of fighters and bombers operating in the zone covered by modern air defence systems.

A pressing task is upgrading drones, including strategic and reconnaissance ones, as well as methods of using them. The experience of the special military operation has shown that the use of drones has become practically ubiquitous. They should be a must-have for combat units, platoons, companies and battalions. Targets must be identified as quickly as possible and information needed to strike must be transferred in real time.

Unmanned vehicles should be interconnected, integrated into a single intelligence network, and should have secure communication channels with headquarters and commanders. In the near future, every fighter should be able to receive information transmitted from drones. We must work towards this; we must strive for this. Technically, this can be implemented in the very near future, almost now. I ask you to focus on this when finalising the entire range of equipment and tactical gear for personnel.

We know that there are no small things on the battlefield, so you need to pay special attention – I know that the Ministry of Defense is working on this, but I want to emphasise it once again: medical kits, food, dry rations, uniforms, footwear, protective helmets, body armour – everything should be at the most up-to-date and highest level. The troops need to have enough night vision devices, high-quality sights, and new generation sniper rifles. I will not list everything now, but I will mention what is most important: everything that a fighter uses should be cutting-edge, convenient and reliable, and the supply should correspond to their actual needs. If some ministry standards are outdated, they need to be changed – and quickly.

I would like to draw the attention of the Defence Minister, the Chief of the General Staff and all the commanders here: we have no funding restrictions. The country, the Government will provide whatever the Army asks for, anything. I hope that the answer will be properly formulated and the appropriate results will be achieved.

Returning to the topic of drones, I must note that we have good experience in developing unique unmanned underwater systems. I know that the industry has every capability it needs to create a wide range of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles with the best and highest tactical and technical characteristics, including elements of artificial intelligence. In addition, we generally need to consider ways to expand the arsenals of the latest strike weapons.

Fifth, it is necessary to improve the management and communication system in order to ensure the stability and efficiency of command and control of the troops in any conditions. To do this, we need to use artificial intelligence more widely at all levels of decision-making. As experience shows, including that of recent months, the weapons systems that operate quickly and almost automatically are the most effective ones.

Furthermore, the partial mobilisation has revealed certain problems – this is common knowledge – that must be promptly resolved. I know that the necessary measures are being taken but we should still pay attention to this issue and build this system in a modern way. First, it is necessary to upgrade the system of military commissariat offices. I am referring to the digitisation of databases and interaction with the local and regional authorities. It is necessary to upgrade the organisation of civil and territorial defence and interaction with industry. In particular, we need to improve the system of stockpiling and storing arms, combat equipment and material resources for the deployment of units and formations during mobilisation.

As you know, 300,000 people have been drafted into the Armed Forces. Some of them are already in the zone of hostilities. As the Defence Minister and the Chief of the General Staff report, 150,000 people are undergoing training at military grounds and this reserve is adequate for conducting the operation. It is basically a strategic reserve that is not being used in combat operations currently, but people undergo the required training there.

Colleagues,

I would like to sincerely thank our people who are helping our Armed Forces out of the kindness of their hearts, sending autos, additional equipment, gear and warm clothes to the frontline and letters and presents to the wounded in hospitals. Even if the Defence Ministry provides our troops with all they need in some segment, we should still humbly thank people for it.

I would like to ask the Defence Ministry to pay attention to all civil initiatives, which includes considering criticism and offering an adequate and timely response. Obviously, the reaction of people who see problems – and problems are inevitable in such a big and difficult undertaking – their reaction may be emotional as well. There is no doubt that it is necessary to listen to those who are not hushing up existing problems but are trying to contribute to their resolution.

I am confident the Defence Ministry’s dialogue with the public will remain ongoing. As we know, our strength has always been in the unity of the army and the people, and that has not changed.

Now for the reports.

The Defence Minister has the floor.

Thank you for your attention.

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