Russian president Boris Yeltsin turned to themes of Russian naval glory during a campaign speech at a St. Petersburg ship-building yard yesterday, declaring that "Russia was, is, and will be a great naval power." Yeltsin also said that Russian national interests, as well as its security and economic and cultural development, "are unthinkable without a strong navy." The Russian president told his audience of shipyard personnel that the government intends to pay back salaries, ensure undelayed financing of the fleet, and allocate funding for the construction of new naval vessels. During a speech before naval personnel he reminded them of the government’s May decision to include in the federal budget a separate item for financing the navy. Finally, in an apparent counterpoint to the evocation of Soviet military symbols by the communists on Russian Independence Day, Yeltsin hailed the upcoming three-hundred year anniversary of the Russian navy. "We Russians," he said, understand that the naval flag means "more than parades, salutes, and firing demonstrations." (Itar-Tass, Interfax, June 13) Russia’s navy and naval shipbuilding industry have been especially hard hit by defense spending cuts in recent years.
… Continues to Court the Armed Forces.