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Conversation with Vostochny Cosmodrome employees

April 12, 2022, Amur Region

Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko met with Vostochny Cosmodrome employees.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would like to once again wish you a happy holiday.

President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: I congratulate you on your decorations.

Remark: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: As I already mentioned, we started this in the Soviet Union, and we worked together. The entire Soviet Union stood behind the first manned flight into space. We remember this well. I am pleased to note that these efforts have continued to this day. Indeed, the circumstances have changed, but we continue to cooperate. It is no coincidence that the President of Belarus is here with me today.

We have been discussing for some time now ways to use our common capabilities and competencies and to combine them, starting with simple things like construction work, and all the way to the creation of spacecraft. I mentioned the advantages of Belarusian enterprises in my earlier remarks, and we are using them in full. We are confident that this will benefit our space industry.

So, happy holiday once again, and I wish you continued success in your work.

I think Vostochny Cosmodrome is one of the largest construction projects in Europe and the world, a major facility with bright development prospects. As far as super-heavy duty rockets are concerned, there is work to do until 2035. The scope of the work is formidable but everything is going as scheduled. Unfortunately, the pandemic has taken its toll, and we had to shift the schedule “to the right side of the chart” a bit, but it has been updated overall, and the work will continue.

I wish you all the best.

Remark: Thank you very much.

Dmitry Bolotov: Mr President, may I ask you a question?

Bolotov Dmitry, Vostochny Space Centre.

We are celebrating International Cosmonautics Day today in our country and around the world, too. What do you think about this holiday? Do you remember April 12, 1961?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I do. Oddly enough, but I do.

(Addressing President Lukashenko.) Mr Lukashenko, do you remember April 12?

I was a child. How old was I? I was 9 back then. Frankly, I did not fully understand what was happening, but I knew something great and unusual had happened. Strangers were hugging and kissing in the streets.

It really looked like Victory Day too, because for me, as a 9 year-old, it was clear that something unusual had happened. I didn’t know what outer space was, and what a manned flight into outer space for the first time in history meant, but it was absolutely clear that a grand event had taken place, and it had to do with our country’s tremendous achievements. Even a 9 year-old could sense the pride in the country in the air.

It was such an outstanding event that I kept everything that happened back then in my memory.

Of course, it was broadcast on television. Even children were impressed, let alone the adults who jubilated in the truest sense of the word. The country celebrated, and one might say the entire world did too.

I am confident we will have events of this kind in the future as well.

Thank you.

Nikolai Aistov: Nikolai Aistov, Russian Space Systems.

This is not a question.

You mentioned this issue today. I would like to say that all of us wholeheartedly support the operations of our army and we want the tasks and goals set for the special military operation to be achieved.

This is all I wanted to say.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You can bet on it.There is no doubt about that.

The goals are absolutely clear; these are noble goals. I said this at the very beginning. I would like to point out that I indicated these goals in my first address to the people and the Armed Forces. The main goal is to help the people of Donbass, the people’s republics of Donbass, which we have recognised. It was a forced decision because, regrettably, the Kiev authorities, pushed by the West, refused to implement the Minsk Agreements that were aimed at a peaceful solution to the problem of Donbass and the two people’s republics.

They openly refused to do this. The President [of Ukraine] said that he did not like a single clause of the agreement, and other [Ukrainian] officials said that the agreements could not be implemented because they would destroy the country. They publicly refused to honour them.

We could no longer tolerate that genocide, which went on for eight years. This is the first point.

Second, Ukraine was being turned into a bridgehead, regrettably for us, into an anti-Russia bridgehead. They started nurturing the germs of nationalism and neo-Nazism that appeared in that country long ago. You know that, if you took note of what I said in one of my public addresses, they specially nurtured that neo-Nazi virus, and Russia’s clash with these forces was inevitable. They were just choosing the right time for an attack. The subsequent events have shown how much this has germinated. It is an obvious fact. Regrettably, neo-Nazism has become a fact of life in a big country with which we had close affinity. This is clear. It was imminent, and just a matter of time.

What we are doing there is helping people, saving them from genocide, on the one hand, and at the same time we are taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself – it is obvious that we had no alternative and that it was the right step.

And there is no doubt that we will definitely attain the goals set.

Anything else?

Alexander Tarakanov: May I ask a question?

Vladimir Putin: Go ahead.

Alexander Tarakanov: Alexander Tarakanov, NPO Lavochkin.

Mr President, can Russia continue working on its aerospace programme under the sanctions imposed by the unfriendly countries? What measures are being taken to strengthen our technological sovereignty in this sphere?

Vladimir Putin: Mr Tarakanov, we were just talking about Yury Gagarin’s first space flight. In 1961, the Soviet Union was in complete technological isolation, and the sanctions against it were overwhelming. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union became the first country to orbit an artificial earth satellite, the first man in space was a Soviet citizen, and the first space station was ours, and the first mission to the Moon was ours as well, if memory serves, the first spacewalk was made by our man, and the first woman in space was our Valentina Tereshkova, God bless her. We did all of that in conditions of complete technological isolation, and yet we made these incredible achievements.

Can’t today’s Russia, with advanced technologies at its disposal, continue to work on its space programme, which we have outlined until 2030? Of course, we will do it.

Moreover, this may sound strange because it seemingly concerns different spheres, but I have mentioned it many times: when the first sanctions were imposed in 2014, some of our industries, for example, agriculture, made huge strides. Our agriculture has become a high-tech sector. Our agricultural exports have even exceeded the export of our weapons systems by a large margin, by US$10 billion.

Of course, modern science and technologies are interconnected, and we are not going to isolate ourselves. It is impossible to completely isolate anyone in the modern world, let alone a large country like Russia. Therefore, we will work with those of our partners who want to cooperate with us. We will work on near space and outer space programmes, and we will also implement our moon-exploration programme.

As you know, we plan to implement the Luna 25 lander mission in the third quarter. Can we make it in the third quarter?

General Director of the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities Dmitry Rogozin: We must. The launch window will close in the third quarter.

Vladimir Putin: Well, there you go.

We will continue working. Even the Vostochny development plans are set out until 2035. We will continue to develop technologies and improve our competencies.

What we could buy with petrodollars and gas profits before – well, the money will remain in the country anyway. We will use them to develop our own competencies. I know this will do us a lot of good.

Alexander Tarakanov: Thank you.

Vladimir Tokarev: Mr President, I have a question.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, please.

Vladimir Tokarev: Vostochny Cosmodrome Directorate, Vladimir Tokarev.

Mr President, when should we expect construction workers from Belarus to arrive at the Vostochny Cosmodrome?

Vladimir Putin: President Lukashenko is here.

Vladimir Tokarev: Mr Lukashenko, we look forward to seeing you.

Alexander Lukashenko: We will not keep you waiting.

Vladimir Tokarev: Glad to hear that.

Alexander Lukashenko: You know, President Putin speaks about “sanctions.” And I was saying to Dmitry Rogozin, “You know, here it feels like there are no sanctions.”

Everything is your own. You make everything with your own hands. Why are we worried about these sanctions? Can’t we build everything?

Vladimir Tokarev: We will.

Alexander Lukashenko: We will do everything. We just need a bit of time.

This is why the President invited me here, so that I could see everything with my own eyes.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, to see the amount of work, the scale.

Belarusian builders have a very good reputation for being highly skilled. We will do everything.

But as I have already said, this is not the only area of our space cooperation. They have a very good company. They will use our developments and be in charge of the final production.

Dmitry Rogozin: Peleng.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, Peleng, a very good company. It remained from the Soviet times and President Lukashenko did not allow it to crumble and supported it. We will use it and work actively in the future.

These are quite specific things. We will make a high-tech vehicle. Builders will work here and we will develop space cooperation.

Vladimir Tokarev: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you for this question.

Alexander Aleshin: Mr President, may I?

Progress Rocket and Space Centre, Alexander Aleshin.

More and more new specialists are coming to our Vostochny Cosmodrome every year. Yet, I have to admit that life here is not what it is in a metropolitan area. What do you think should be done to attract specialists here, to the Vostochny Cosmodrome?

Vladimir Putin: You said it yourself: to improve living conditions, to develop the city. I discussed this with Mr Rogozin. We believe it is necessary to build not only high-rise but also low-rise buildings, develop social infrastructure and develop cultural spaces. We have all of it in our plans and will do this simultaneously.

You know, initially when I just devised this project, the cosmodrome, I spoke about the need to accelerate the development of social facilities so that people feel comfortable here.

We have now looked at a runway for receiving aircraft but in addition to technological aviation we need passenger flights for people to come here.

We will develop the project across the board. We will focus on tourism, including in the Far East. Incidentally, I asked the Government to double cashback for those who come to Far Eastern regions. It is also necessary to develop technological tourism here so that people could come and see everything here.

Afterwards we will create conditions for bringing down the cost of travelling to the Far East, so that young specialists working here could freely travel to other parts of the country, primarily to its European part.

Our cosmonauts know this, that is the kind of people they are, and you too – you work in this sector: of course, there is something special about these people, who are captivated by the idea of space exploration, and we need to create decent living conditions for them, including childcare centres and the like. All these things are included in our programme and we will deliver on it.

I already spoke about it and I want to repeat: I believe this social infrastructure should be created at an accelerated pace.

Mr Rogozin, do not forget it.

Dmitry Rogozin: Yes, sir.

Alexander Alyoshin: Thank you.

Vladislav Zenkov: Mr President, allow me to ask one more question.

Vladislav Zenkov, Vostochny Cosmodrome.

We want the younger generation to know as much as possible about our country’s achievements in developing space rocket technology. How will the government support efforts to promote science education and professions of the future, so to say?

Vladimir Putin: This is a very important question.

Once Daniil Granin told me that the government should give more consideration to this – science in general and also high-tech sectors like space.

We will make films and write books on this theme on practically an assignment from the government and we will promote all these things at school. This is what we can and must take pride in and what brings young talented people to the sector. It is certainly a major sector. I believe Roscosmos is also considering this.

Dmitry Rogozin: Today, we have more applications for enrollment than earlier, with seven applicants competing for a place at the colleges and universities that train students for us. It is a good indicator.

Vladimir Putin: A large integrated facility is being created at the site of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre. The President of Belarus must see it. This will be our major rocket and space complex.

Dmitry Rogozin: With 20,000 employees.

Vladimir Putin: Twenty thousand people will work there. It is being designed for specialised research, as well as related sectors. It is very interesting, I would say captivating.

We will work on all of these projects by all means, simply because without them it is impossible to develop an interesting and promising sector like cosmonautics.

Then, you know what? You certainly do, as I have just spoken about it: space is becoming increasingly linked to various areas, from healthcare to, you know, the study of Earth and the mineral resources, as well as defence. So, if all this is skillfully presented to arouse interest in people, it will attract a huge number of talented young specialists to the sector, one hundred percent. No doubt about it.

April 12, 2022, Amur Region