Viktor Bondarev holds a briefing for foreign defence attaches accredited in Russia

The participants were briefed on the 2018 performance of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security and the position of its members regarding topical military-political matters.

Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security Viktor Bondarev held a briefing for military attaches of foreign states accredited in the Russian Federation.

The Federation Council Committee’s First Deputy Chairs, Alexander Rakitin and Vladimir Kozhin, as well as the Committee’s Deputy Chair Mikhail Kozlov, 118 officers representing the military diplomatic corps from 71 countries and members of NATO’s Military Liaison Mission in Moscow, took part in the event.

Viktor Bondarev discussed the main results of the Committee’s 2018 performance and various aspects of its 2019 activities. According to Bondarev, systemic issues regarding the Russian Armed Forces’ efforts to maintain national defence and security have been resolved. “We maintain high standards in the area of military development, personnel training programmes and the procurement of highly effective weaponry, military and special-purpose equipment for military units,” he said.

At the same time, there are some problems related to social issues, including medical support for service personnel, pay grades, military pensions, housing for members of armed services, and military communities. “In 2018, members of our Committee closely reviewed matters regarding the provision of comfortable and affordable housing for service personnel and their families. They mostly receive housing under the mortgage savings mechanism of lending. We have started resolving the problem of service personnel’s mortgage debts. The Russian Government has passed its resolution stipulating a mechanism for refinancing earlier mortgages. The Russian Defence Minister has issued the relevant order. However, it is still too early to say that the problems have been resolved completely. We will continue our work throughout 2019,” Viktor Bondarev said.

Systemic issues regarding the Russian Armed Forces’ efforts to maintain national defence capabilities have been resolved.

Members of the Federation Council Committee are now doing their best to streamline legislation that regulates medical support for service personnel and people with the same status, the Senator noted.

Viktor Bondarev also touched upon geopolitical and international cooperation matters and called for consolidating the international community’s efforts to maintain global security.

Military attaches from several countries asked questions dealing with the Russian Aerospace Force’s operations against international terrorists in Syria, as well as information security, regulations for foreign warships using the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route, as well as the transition of the Russian Armed Forces to professional contract service and additional military service opportunities for women.

Vladimir Kozhin replied to a question on maintaining information security. There are plans to pass various legislative measures to protect information systems and fight cybercrime before the year is out, he noted. Kozhin also suggested intensifying international cooperation in this field.

Alexander Rakitin briefed those present on navigation regulations for foreign warships using the Northern Sea Route. A draft document stipulating new regulations will be finalised soon, he said. Various agencies are currently coordinating this document. “The planned changes are linked with the need to prevent seawater pollution in ice-covered areas where sea ice formations pose a major hazard for warships. Most warships are not intended to operate in the severe Arctic environment and complicated ice conditions, and their crews have not received any special training on how to navigate them in such conditions. Our efforts seek to maintain regional navigation safety,” he explained.

Mikhail Kozlov discussed the army’s transition to professional contract service. “The introduction of professional contract service is our strategic goal and task, and the country’s leaders will strive to accomplish this objective in the medium and long term,” he noted. Kozlov recalled that the number of soldiers serving under contract had soared by over 100 percent since 2012.

In conclusion, Viktor Bondarev and Bruno Russi, the doyen of the military diplomatic corps, exchanged mementos.

Viktor Bondarev noted that he had never addressed military attaches as “sir” because, in this country, it is customary to address even the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Russian Armed Forces as “comrade”.