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    Putin pledges greater role for General Staff

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    The role of the Russian General Staff will steadily grow in the future, President Vladimir Putin said at a Defense Ministry board session Thursday.

    MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - The role of the Russian General Staff will steadily grow in the future, President Vladimir Putin said at a Defense Ministry board session Thursday.

    Putin has appointed Anatoly Serdyukov, 45, who headed the Federal Tax Service for the last three years, as new defense minister, replacing Sergei Ivanov.

    "I certainly hope that the ministry, at least the part of it that deals with development, will pay close attention to the economic and financial components [of defense activities]," Putin said.

    "At the same time, the significance of the military component, the significance of the General Staff, will certainly become even higher than it is now," the president said.

    He also reiterated the need to use the potential of the Russian defense industry to ensure further innovative development of the country's economy.

    "Our defense industry has been showing steady development, and we should use everything that it has to satisfy the needs of the civilian sector [of the economy]," Putin said.

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