President Putin Orders Naval Exercises in Far East

The Pacific Fleet's main task should be the maintenance of task groups and units, especially of the strategic nuclear forces, at war readiness. Russian President Vladimir Putin made this announcement at a meeting with the fleet's high command. 'Relations with utility companies, electricity companies and other problems should not affect this goal,' the President added. 'These problems can be dealt with if they are thought about in advance and not allowed to reach crisis points'. The meeting with the fleet's high command was the last event in the programme of Putin's visit to the far-eastern Primorye Region - the President's longest trip to the regions.

At the meeting the President announced that he had ordered Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov to carry out complex military exercises in the Far East. Putin also revealed a significant wage increase for military personnel, which is being planned this year. 'Next year military servicemen will see their pay increased twice,' added the President. 'From January 1, in connection with an increase in salary for military ranks, and from October 1, by 11%, because the wages of military personnel will be indexed to inflation like those of civil servants'.

The Far-East Region's main characteristic is its extensive sea border. The President reminded people of this while adding that it is important to bring about close operational cooperation with the border service and other regional armed structures. According to the President, one of the state's most important current priorities is to have a consistent and complex national naval policy, the task of which is the strengthening of the country's naval potential. This 'will allow work to be begun on improving Russia's naval hardware, which must meet the highest modern requirements and be able to provide an appropriate response to any challenge or threat, of which, unfortunately, there are still many'. Putin promised to 'incline the government to supporting the armed forces and the navy'.

After his meeting with the Pacific Fleet's command, Putin flew on to Chita.

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