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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Praises Power Agencies

Itar-TassThe president shaking hands with General Vladimir Bakin, commander of the Moscow military district, at the Kremlin.
Just a few years ago, separatists and power-hungry oligarchs threatened Russia's very existence. But thanks to the security services, law enforcement agencies and military, order has been restored and Russia has been granted a new lease on life.

That was President Vladimir Putin's message Friday at a Kremlin reception for newly promoted officers. In his comments, the president also pledged to lavish future funds on the so-called power agencies.

"With the armed forces in the state they were at that time, with what was essentially an ongoing civil war being waged, continued bloodshed in the Caucasus and the country's national wealth being robbed on an unprecedented scale as millions of people looked on, the picture appeared to be of a country with no future ahead of it," Putin said in comments posted on the Kremlin web site. "But dramatic change has been achieved over these last years, and this is thanks to your efforts, too."

The audience included generals from the Federal Guard Service, Prosecutor General's Office, Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry, Federal Prison Service, Federal Drug Control Agency and Federal Security Service, or FSB.

But much work remains to be done, the commander in chief said. Major challenges, he said, include extremism, violent xenophobia, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"All of this demands constant work to improve our country's military organization, including maintaining our nuclear deterrent forces at a high level of combat readiness," Putin said.

Putin repeated what senior officials have already said -- that the government would spend nearly $191 billion building up the military from 2007 to 2015. Putin is scheduled to leave office in 2008.

The United States' plans to deploy parts of a ballistic missile defense system in Eastern Europe are one of many reasons Russia should increase arms spending, Putin said.

Putin recalled that then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had dismissed Russia's nuclear capabilities when arguing against a U.S. missile shield.

"'What are we arguing about?'" Putin said Powell told America's European allies. "'What missile defense? Defense against what?' They -- that is, us -- don't have anything left now. They've got no missiles either now, just a load of rusting metal, that's all."

The White House and Kremlin remain at odds over the U.S. missile shield in Europe. While Washington insists the shield would only target missiles launched by rogue states, Moscow says Europe faces no such threats and has voiced concerns that the system would undermine Russia's nuclear forces -- and its deterrent capacity vis-a-vis the United States.

Putin also outlined major goals for the power agencies before the 2007 parliamentary elections and the 2008 presidential vote.

"A task of particular importance for the FSB this year will be ensuring security during elections to the State Duma and regional legislative assemblies. It is important to make sure the campaigns remain free of nationalist and extremist sloganeering," he said.

The Kremlin has used the threat of ultranationalism and xenophobia to crack down on mostly nonviolent political opposition forces in an effort to sideline them and insure the dominance of pro-Kremlin parties.