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    RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: RUSSIA STARTED FULL-SCALE CONSTRUCTION OF ITS ARMY AND NAVY

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    MOSCOW, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov stated that Russia moved over to full-scale construction of its army and Navy.

    In his televised statement on the occasion of the Fatherland Defender's Day the minister stated: "We moved over from resolution of survival problems of the army and the Navy towards their full-scale construction. The recent exercises of the Armed forces vividly confirmed that. I am talking about successful results of practical experiments, which allow us to guarantee national security of Russia in the long historical perspective." The minister stressed: "Esteemed comrades, dear friends, today our country officially celebrates the Fatherland Defender's Day. This holiday is of a truly nation-wide character. It is impossible to overestimate services rendered by many generations of army and Navy servicemen to their Motherland, their contribution into defense of national interests of the country. Dear Fatherland defenders, esteemed veterans, I whole-heartedly congratulate you, your relatives and close ones with the Fatherland Defender's Day. I would like to specially congratulate those who are on duty today in military units and divisions."

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