Meeting with permanent members of the Security Council


Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
Meeting with permanent members of the Security Council.
March 18, 2011

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Dmitry Medvedev heard reports by Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Head of Rosatom State Corporation Sergei Kiriyenko on the state of affairs in Japan following the natural disasters that hit the country, and also discussed the situation in Libya.

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PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: We have had to devote a lot of time to unusual weather, extreme situations, and various accidents over the last years. But this is one of the authorities’ duties of course, because such disasters and accidents often cause huge material damage and, sadly, loss of life.

The earthquake in Japan has already claimed more than 16,000 lives, and the toll continues to rise. This disaster shows us just how important are international efforts and programmes to help deal with natural disasters, which unfortunately we cannot predict or prevent.

I have already ordered that rescuers be sent to Japan, and they are working there now. We are also ready to provide our Japanese neighbours and colleagues with humanitarian aid, send foodstuffs, water, medicines, any other goods required. The Cabinet is dealing with this. We also need to look at the possibility of bringing groups of Japanese children and disaster victims in general to our sanatoriums, where they could receive medical treatment and psychological rehabilitation. We could also look overall at the possibilities if need be for perhaps making use of some of our neighbours’ labour force potential, especially in sparsely populated parts of Siberia and the Far East. This could benefit our country, and at the same time it could be one means of helping out our neighbours in this very difficult situation.

We are also ready to send to Japan brigades of experts with experience in collecting and analysing information on the radiation situation, and environmental and medical data. They could help out with drawing up recommendations on the priority areas and protection measures for protecting personnel and local people against radiation, and if necessary, on medical assistance.

Coming to what we are doing now and what further steps will be needed, the Emergency Situations Ministry will need to keep monitoring the situation in the Far East, monitor the radiation situation, working together in close coordination with the Russian weather service’s regional offices and our consumer protection services, and keeping watch over developments in the geophysical situation. The Russian Academy of Sciences can be engaged in this work too. Of course, this work will also require coordination with the Defence Ministry’s Eastern Military District too. All additional measures must be taken to protect the population from possible consequences of the earthquake in Japan. I know that Mr Putin is flying to the Far East, and so the Government should check out the overall situation in the region and make sure that our people there have all the needed supplies of medicines and protection and monitoring supplies. This is important because the situation at the Japanese nuclear facilities continues to develop. We need to monitor these develops calmly and plan protection measures that may be needed, and ensure too of course that our people are receiving accurate and up to date information on the radiation situation and what the authorities are doing and can do to protect them.  

We need to learn from what has happened and once again evaluate the means we have for monitoring the radiation situation. This is all the more important as we are ourselves carrying out a large-scale programme to build and operate nuclear power plants. We are sure that they are effective and safe, but we always need to have a monitoring system and action plans in place just in case, because no one is insured against natural disasters of course.

We also need to do some summing up and make some conclusions following last year’s heat wave. I issued some instructions last summer and autumn regarding improvements to the forest legislation and putting in place more effective disaster management mechanisms. I also gave instructions on re-equipping the fire and rescue services, developing the insurance system, and raising people’s environmental awareness. The Russian [Federal Forest Service] Rosleskhoz was made directly subordinate to the Government in order to improve control and supervision in this area, and the necessary amendments were made to the Forestry Code. More than 300 fire engines were sent to the regions. Today we will hear a report on what is being done to establish specialised regional commissions in this area, so that our services do not find themselves unprepared should similar events occur again this summer. Of course, we also need to make use of preventive measures. I want to hear about all of this in the report today, but we will first hear the latest updates on the situation in Japan regarding the earthquake, tsunami, and the technological disasters there.  

There is one other issue I wanted to mention. The UN Security Council has passed another resolution on Libya, this time concerning a no-fly zone and possible military operations. Our country abstained on the voting. The resolution was passed, and clearly a number of countries might begin taking action very soon. We need to discuss this matter immediately, think about the safety of our diplomatic staff still in Libya, and discuss the situation in general. I want to hear the Foreign Ministry’s proposals.

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