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Putin calls to establish direct dialogue between parties to Ukrainian conflict

MOSCOW, /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Kiev to stop economic blockade of Donbass and stressed the importance of a direct dialogue between the conflicting parties.

At a briefing after his talks with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday, he noted that the situation in eastern Ukraine had become calmer after the signing of the Minsk agreements of February 12, but still there were some problems.

"I am confident that a reliable and lasting settlement is only possible through a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. I think it is a key condition for settlement in general," he said.

"We think it necessary to stop economic blockade, to restore financial and banking ties, and to conduct a constitutional reform with the participation of the country’s eastern regions," Putin said, adding that these were provisions of the Minsk agreements of February 12. He once again stressed these agreements must be implemented.

Russian Defense Ministry orders several hundred combat vehicles — manufacturer

The manufacturer will continue providing BMP-3 combat vehicles until research and development of the new Kurganets-25 platform is completed.

MOSCOW, /TASS/. The Russian Defense Ministry and the Tractor Plants concern have signed a contract for the supply of several dozen mechanized infantry combat vehicles BMP-3, the concern’s vice-president and co-owner, Albert Bakov, has told TASS.

"We have concluded a three-year contract with the Defense Ministry for supplying hundreds of BMP-3," he said.

In the process of the BMP-s serial production the vehicle’s design underwent 1,500 amendments.

Bakov said that Kurganmashzavod, an affiliate of the Tractor Plants, said would continue providing BMP-3 until the completion of research and development of the Kurganets-25 platform and the beginning of the serial production of a new generation of combat vehicles on its basis.

Some special features of Russia's new generation Armata combat platform disclosed

The remote control function is one of the tank’s key features.

MOSCOW, /TASS/. The new generation combat platform Armata is capable of carrying any special equipment and weapons, the deputy CEO of Uralvagonzavod in charge of special vehicles production, Vyacheslav Khalitov, has told TASS.

"We are prepared to cope with any task, because we have created a universal platform with a variety of configurations, with rear-, middle-and front-engine layouts. This allows for equipping the chassis with any special gear or armaments," Khalitov said.

At the moment work is in progress to convert the platform into an armoured repair and recovery vehicle.

"Armata was conceived as a parent platform for a wide variety of vehicles. Future configurations will depend on the client," Khalitov said.

The information and control system of the Armata-based tank is capable of warning the crew of potential problems, Khalitov went on to say.

"The machine’s information and control system issues early warnings about likely problems. Before, the crew had to wait for a problem to occur. Now the electronic brain issues early prompts," Khalitov said, adding that Armata was resistant to many human errors.

The remote control function is one of the tank’s key features.

"We have reserved an opportunity for robotics solutions," Khalitov said. "Three should be no haste, though, because, this idea can materialize only after artificial intelligence, powerful enough to assess the battlefield situation and make the correct decision proceeding from it, has been created. At this point only a human being can do that."

If need be, Armata’s crew will be able to control the gun manually from the isolated armoured capsule, Khalitov said.

"In developing Armata we proceeded from the dual redundancy principle regarding any process. For instance, the fire control system contains a manual control and firing option," he said.

Armata’s turret is unmanned. The crew inside the armoured capsule is isolated from both ammunition and fuel.

"In case of a direct hit the chances the crew will stay alive are very high," Khalitov said.

Another advantage of the uninhabited turret is the tank is more viable on the whole.

The demonstration of the Armata-based tank at the international Russia Arms Expo - 2015 in Nizhni Tagil will be open only to select few, Khalitov said.

"We do hope that the Defence Ministry will turn an attentive ear to our request and let us show Armata at the international exhibition of weapons and military hardware Russia Arms Expo - 2015. But even if that happens, the demonstration will be secret. The vehicle is still classified," Khalitov said.

He added it would be wrong to show Armata too early, still more so, to show it to Western counterparts who would certainly be invited to the show.

Armata is a heavy unified platform created for a variety of armoured vehicles, standing next to the medium class Boomerang and Kurganets, as well as light Typhoon. The tanks and other armoured vehicles based on that platform will appear in the May 9 Red Square parade alongside other types of military hardware of the future.
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