Media Review

27 february, 2012 13:41

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: "Duty as a mission"

Vladimir Putin has said Russia will not renounce nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Saratov, the birthplace of the first Soviet atomic bomb and a closed city of nuclear researchers (former Arzamas-16) to discuss ways of consolidating Russia's national defence with military experts and analysts.

Putin explained the nature of Russia's mission to humanity and dispelled the American assumption that all the Russia's military has is "a rusty heap of junk." He also promised an asymmetrical response to US AMD plans.

Before his trip to Sarov, Putin toured the National Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF). He heard about the latest military and civilian developments at the institute's nuclear centre, including those that allow researchers to cut costs on field experiments. It is possible to computer simulate the landing of an aircraft without landing gear or the parameters of a nuclear power plant, for example. Putin was also shown the centre's portable super computers.

Young, enthusiastic specialists that work at the Rosatom Nuclear State Corporation enterprises presented their projects. Researcher Oksana Denisova said she was happy with both her job and her salary – 80,000 roubles per month.

Putin's visit to Sarov also marked the final event in Rosatom's children's science and technology festival named "People of the Future".

Rosatom has long concerned itself with training nuclear specialists for the innovative economy. The Russian Nuclear Innovative Consortium (RNIC) was set up in the summer of 2011. It brings together 12 universities and the National Nuclear Research University (MIFI).

But we need to start looking for talent early on, amongst children, all the more so since up to 10% of the country's innovative schools are found on the corporation's territory.

There are qualified teachers and practical scientists, but also many smart children, judging by their success in major school olympiads. Therefore, Rosatom is now actively working with much younger kids, putting together specific classes in schools for those who want to work in the nuclear industry. The People of the Future festival is designed to select the best of the best in order to help students in their development from school to a position at a nuclear power plant. Talented senior students from closed cities and towns near nuclear power plants spent several days taking part in academic competitions and attending lectures by leading researchers. The students even made a practice nuclear bomb. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Rosatom CEO Sergei Kiriyenko presented the awards to the winners.

Putin also spoke about military personnel at a round-table discussion with experts in Sarov. "We need make a significant change to the mindset of army personnel. The officers, and privates too, shouldn't feel like cogs in a wheel. We need to unlock the creative potential in all of them," Putin said, adding that the Defence Ministry has been establishing groups of young specialists across different areas.

Putin is convinced that the armed forces require long-term planning - for at least the next 30-50 years. "We must also foresee things that others probably don't notice in order to always keep abreast of the times and to be as effective as possible," he explained. "We need this not only for our security and territorial integrity, but also for the rest of the world." Putin said that our responsibility to humankind is to preserve the balance of strategic forces and capabilities that have ensured the absence of global conflicts after World War II.

"But we still have some leverage that I think should encourage our colleagues and our partners to do more constructive work than we have seen thus far," the prime minister said. He continued, "only a few years ago, the NATO states would say to each other, even if not to us directly, 'Russia can mess around as much as it likes, we're not interested – all they have is a rusty heap of junk anyway,' But this is definitely not the case today," Putin said.

From 2008 to 2011 our armed forces have received 39 intercontinental ballistic missiles, two new submarines, 12 launchers for the Iskander missile systems and a wide range of other equipment. What's more, the strategic nuclear forces are being built up ahead of schedule. "The Topol-M and Yars are modern systems that can beat a missile defence system. This is no joking mattre r!" said Putin. And the proportion of advanced missile systems among the strategic nuclear ground forces has almost doubled – from 13% to 25%.

The problems with the Bulava have been resolved and it will now be put into commission. The Air Force has seven large air bases with strong infrastructure, and the basic airfields are being modernised – for the first time in 20 years, 28 airports have been renovated. Over 30 air squadrons have been equipped with new technology. Re-arming the missile forces with S-400 systems is in progress, and we are approaching the development of new state-of-the-art systems – the S-500 - which uses certain elements of a missile defence system.

The prime minister said he hopes that the arms race will be halted. He disagreed with some of the experts' statements over the cooling of relations with the United States. "In general, we have built a partnership over the key issues on the international agenda. Yes, we do have a dispute over missile defence and how this should be developed, but this didn't begin yesterday," Putin said. "As for ultra conservatives coming to power and tightening the screws – they can keep right on going until their screwdriver snaps," the prime minister added.

"And as regards this missile defence system, the Americans don't want to talk to us seriously about it. I can tell you straight out– they are shirking the issue." Basically, they want to persuade the international community that there are threats developing which must be restrained, Putin went on. "Well, would anybody be against that?" he said, stressing that it is necessary to preserve the balance of strategic forces and not to create a monopoly of invulnerability.

"We'll take asymmetric but effective steps," Putin promised. They tell us to do as we please - we are not enemies anymore, he continued. "We currently have ten missile regiments equipped with Topol-M and Yars missiles, and we can do much more," he said. "We cannot disarm while other nuclear powers are increasing their weapons. That's out of the question!" Putin said abruptly. Now when precision weapons becoming relevant to that of mass destruction (WMD) we will say no to nuclear weapons only when our scale of technology is on the same level. And not a day earlier!" Putin said, adding that there is no point in expanding the nuclear club.

Alluding to his article in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Putin said: "Nuclear deterrents and missiles are our absolute priority." "I am not entertaining any illusions and I don't want to rattle my saber and claim that we have overtaken them – we have not, but in this area we are a little bit ahead, half a step ahead of them," he explained. He added that the T-50 (PAK FA) is superior to US-made fifth-generation aircraft. Putin also stated that the prime minister must oversee government contracting, whereas an analytical centre for the expert analysis of threats could be established under the president.

Although Putin did not visit the famous Sarov Monastery, he did meet with Father Superior Nikon of the Holy Dormition Hermitage of Sarov and presented him with an icon from the first half of the 19th century. In turn, the Father Superior presented the prime minister with an icon of St Seraphim of Sarov, the patron saint of the monastery.

Kira Latukhina, Sarov


Before arriving in Sarov, Putin signed a government resolution on the construction of the cutting-edge UFL-2M laser facility in Sarov worth 45 billion roubles. Meeting with scientists from the National Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF), Putin told them that key workers in the nuclear weapons sector will receive subsidies beyond 2014. They will be processed next year, he added.

Kira Latukhina