President Victor Yushchenko on Tuesday met with commanders of the country’s Air Force, according to the President`s press-office.

He described the Air Force as “one of the major guarantors of state integrity and independence,” adding that it should become “the most mobile and well trained division of the national army” by 2015. He said Ukraine’s officials should cooperate to achieve this goal.

“As president, I will spare no effort to ensure that you feel adequate, both socially and professionally, to the role you play in the defense sphere,” he promised.

Yushchenko praised the Ukrainian army for achieving results despite problems, particularly for renewing the nation’s trust. As the country’s supreme commander in chief, he outlined 2007 priorities for the Air Force and said he was convinced “these tasks will be supported by both our executives and lawmakers.”

He said the government had been increasing spending on the army over the past several years, by 20-25% annually, but admitted that it was not enough. He asked the leadership of the Air Force to prepare a report on their financial needs within the next ten days. “I pledge to resolve these issues in thirty days,” he said.

Yushchenko said today’s training of the country’s armed forces was “much more realistic” than ten years ago, which helps them get focused on tactical changes and structural reforms. He then said it was important to have a professional army.

“I am convinced we will soon understand that army office is a special profession and will get used to and appreciate this fact,” he said, vowing to support these changes.

Air Force Commander Anatoly Toropchyn said it was vital to better train Ukraine’s military pilots and complained they did not have enough money to repair their equipment and buy aircraft fuel.

Yushchenko then took part in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor aviators, inspected an air defense center and viewed an exhibition in the local Air Force Museum.