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Meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects

December 21, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, via videoconference.

The meeting was held to review the implementation of instructions issued at a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects held a year ago.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov gave a keynote presentation on expanding foreign economic cooperation with prospective partners from friendly states and developing the infrastructure necessary for such cooperation, including transport and transaction infrastructure. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov’s report addressed strengthening the technological sovereignty of the Russian Federation. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov reported on ensuring the financial sovereignty of the Russian Federation. Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin spoke about the advanced development of the country's transport, utilities and social infrastructure. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova's speech dealt with improving the welfare of Russian citizens, ensuring national savings, protecting maternity and childhood, and supporting families with children.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

As always at the end of the year, we are meeting to review results. I propose discussing implementation of the tasks set for 2023, which are part of our systemic efforts to achieve national development goals.

I would like to point out that our national goals have been formulated for a period until 2030 and that the review which we hold regularly at the end of the year is not only important for assessing the current situation – what we have done and where we are lagging behind schedule – but above all for taking practical managerial decisions in the areas which call for special attention and additional efforts, means and resources both at the federal level and at the regional and local levels.

Moreover, the main criterion for assessing our efficiency is public opinion, as we have noted many times, how people view the dynamics, pace and quality of changes in their lives. I would like to draw the attention of our colleagues to this once again.

And the results, which we achieve together, must become the basis for long-term plans.

The national projects we adopted in 2018 will end next year. This means that we must outline national development goals and expand our planning horizon until 2036, setting goals and determining the parameters of our development targets that match our increased capabilities and the higher expectations of our people, which is logical. Of course, we must also prepare and launch updated national projects in due time.

As I said, the potential we have accumulated enables us to reach a whole new level and generate unprecedented momentum for the progress of our entire country.

As for this year’s results, you know that tasks were formulated in the key areas, such as achieving economic sovereignty in terms of technology, workforce, infrastructure and finance, as well as structural changes in our foreign economic activities. This also has to do with the development of cities and towns, the social sphere, demography, support for mothers and children, as well as the healthcare and education systems. Taken together, it means a higher quality of life for people.

I ask my colleagues who will be delivering reports on their subjects to keep in mind the following: in addition to a detailed report on the implementation of the tasks set for 2023, please focus on what needs to be done in 2024, as well as in the long term.

I want to emphasise something before we move on to our agenda.

All our development plans for infrastructure, the social sector, and demography are as realistic as possible. We constantly coordinate our approaches in these areas. The plans are based on the country’s economic potential and take into consideration the dynamics of its sectors, its industrial growth.

The Russian economy went through a period of adaptation to the new external environment. Our companies have kept working steadily, they have improved their logistics and replaced certain imported materials, including parts and components, with Russian-made equivalents and goods made by Russian companies.

In the period of January-October 2023, the manufacturing sector grew by 7.4 percent, while investments have increased by 10 percent over the three quarters, which means further growth looks promising. I am speaking about the economy in general. In the manufacturing sector, investments are even higher: in January-September they increased by 12.2 percent, and in the third quarter by 35 percent.

By the way, the “days of regions” events have been a big success at the Russia Expo. The Russian regions have presented their achievements and potential for further progress.

Russian companies and agencies are now taking up the torch. I am sure that they will present their achievements and plans in the same impressive and convincing way as the regions did.

I reiterate, we need to consolidate the positive momentum in investment and in the overall economy. Economic activity must satisfy the growing domestic demand in a wide array of goods and ensure an adequate supply of consumer goods, while also satisfying the investment demand for machinery, lathes, and engineering equipment.

I also want to emphasise that building an economy of supply will help to avoid price hikes for certain goods in the future; we are currently having such problems, as you know. Our citizens have faced such price hikes in the past few months, we spoke about it during the recent Direct Line.

Let me remind you that we must raise at least 2 trillion rubles by the end of this year for projects to make priority industrial goods.

Today, I would like to hear a progress report on these objectives, as well as on the level of investment we expect to have next year and the target indicators we will set.

Today, Russia offers a unique market environment for opening cutting-edge manufacturing facilities and upgrading the existing plants, while also creating new well-paid jobs, which has special importance.

We must strive to build a high-skills, high-wage economy. This offers us a pathway to higher household incomes and overcoming poverty.

By the way, we have been quite effective on that front as well, as you know. The word poverty sounds very negative, but this indicator does exist and by this account it will be at a historical low in 2023. Still, this doesn’t mean anything to people living below the poverty line. We must reduce this figure as much as possible by striving to achieve zero poverty.

We must improve labour efficiency, and make our economy and the social sector more effective as a whole, guided by the principles of lean manufacturing, automation and digital solutions in our management practices, as well as making wider use of artificial intelligence.

In this context, I expect you to focus on the essential topic of developing the domestic industrial robotics industry in your presentations.

We need to develop new requirements for the vocational training system, to help workers, engineers and managers acquire and upgrade their skills, as well as launch new programmes and expand the existing ones.

I have already asked the Government to draft a forecast on the workforce our economy will need within a five-year horizon. It must target specific sectors and professional categories. Not only do we need to keep this forecast updated taking into consideration the situation on the labour market, but also rely on it when setting target indicators for enrolment in vocational training schools, colleges and universities, creating and developing vocational training programmes. This is a matter of principle.

I am asking the Government to devise a system to motivate educational institutions and measure the performance of their senior executives to make sure that they have the incentives they need to educate specialists for the sectors the labour market needs.

Furthermore, we are developing a system of comprehensive support for the export of Russian goods and services. We are helping our companies reorient to promising partners in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. We are strengthening ties within the Eurasian Economic Union. Incidentally, I would like to note that we are not closing the door to the American continent, North America – the US and Canada or to the European countries. It is time they stopped fooling around, waiting for us to collapse. It has become clear to all – if they want to profit from cooperation with Russia, they need to do it. After all, we are not pushing them away. But it’s up to them, this is their decision. Let them decide for themselves what they are guided by – some ephemeral considerations about Russia’s destruction or the interests of their own country, their own people, in developing international relations as a whole on the modern democratic foundations of a multi-polar world. But, again, this is their business.

An important element of our work is the creation of an independent financial, transaction infrastructure and broad use of national currencies in trade.

Compared with 2021, the percentage of our international transactions using the ruble has doubled to 35 percent. If counted with the currencies of friendly states, it’s up to 75 percent.

External sources of business loans for Russian companies are being replaced with internal ones. In the past year, the total of corporate ruble loans has increased by 9.5 trillion rubles. This figure has grown by over 13.5 trillion rubles since the start of the year. That said, Russia’s external debt has decreased by about one third, which is very important.

The state is reducing its debt and the leading companies are following suit. They are repaying loans on time and taking other actions that are making their finances more balanced and healthier.

I will return to what I said at the recent Russia Calling forum. In the next few years, both the Government and the Central Bank should pay more attention to developing the mechanism of project and equity financing. Our banking system and stock exchange should fully ensure the flow of capital into the most important, promising growth points of the Russian economy. Maybe, growth points is not a very good way of putting it but you understand what I am talking about. It is necessary to pay attention to these issues.

Next, in order for domestic businesses to expand into new markets, to establish more convenient and efficient logistics chains, and of course, to improve the transport connectivity of the country’s regions, we are expanding infrastructure capacities, relieving bottlenecks, and increasing border point capacities. By the way, this needs to be done in a timely manner.

The combined freight volume of our three key logistics corridors, namely, the North-South railway and the Eastern and the Sea of Azov-Black Sea railways is expected to grow by approximately 10 percent this year.

Undoubtedly, further development is a top priority. Mr Belousov and I discussed this earlier today. Importantly, we should understand how the expanded capacity of the Far Eastern and Arctic seaports and the development of the Northern Sea Route into a global transport artery will impact our overall logistics system.

To reiterate, these ambitious projects will provide a powerful, positive effect on our economy, our country as a whole, and our citizens. They will create a vast space for the long-term growth of industries and regions, for many enterprises, and employees engaged in the transport, construction, and other related industries. It will have a beneficial effect for everyone.

We continue to work on our agenda of infrastructure development at the regional and municipal levels. As of December 1, 83 percent of roads in major metropolitan areas have been brought up to standard.

Let me stress that we are ahead of schedule. I am hopeful that we will reach the target indicator and bring 85 percent of roads in major metropolitan areas up to code ahead of the deadline, i.e., next year, as well. This is a tall order, but quite feasible.

We need to ensure a similarly high pace in upgrading mass transit in the regions. By the end of next year, the average age of this fleet should be brought down by way of acquiring new buses, trolleybuses, tram cars, and electric buses. This is a viable incentive and support for industry. So far, we have been successful in developing infrastructure and supporting the manufacturing industry at the same time.

Up-to-date, safe, and environmentally friendly mass transit is an integral part of urban and rural life which we strive to improve, guided by a pragmatic project-based approach.

Master plans were drafted for 22 urban and metropolitan areas in the Far East beginning last year. I understand that we still need to run numbers and review certain things, but overall, the benchmarks have been outlined, and we must strive to achieve those using targeted actions and sources of funding, of course. Similar work is underway for core communities in the Arctic.

As a reminder, we agreed to draw up a registry of best practices for urban development and creating a comfortable living environment where every city, town, and municipality can identify and implement effective solutions that will benefit the residents.

Additionally, I have issued an instruction to draft uniform standards for a master plan’s structure and contents, and codify this term in urban planning legislation.

In fact, the goal is to build a holistic system for managing communities, to bring together all mechanisms for supporting constituent entities in this sphere, and to improve the skills of city officials, as well as to activate effective monitoring tools, primarily the ones operated by residents and civil society. We have consistently emphasised this. I would like the Government to expedite this work.

Colleagues, we have fully retained the programmes aimed at achieving national development goals. Despite the challenges, difficulties, or the specific nature of the current circumstances, we have kept them all. Moreover, this year, we provided advanced funding for many areas in order to not only support the existing pace of transformation, but also to achieve, ahead of schedule, the targets in crucial development areas – which we have been successful at, by the way – and to reinforce the country's sovereignty.

As you may recall, in all our decisions and actions related to economic development, creating new jobs, improving the look of cities, towns and villages, protecting the environment, developing healthcare, education, culture, and sports we are guided by one goal which is to preserve our people, to improve the well-being of Russian families, especially families with children, and, of course, to protect public health.

Life expectancy in Russia exceeded the pre-pandemic level in the first ten months of 2023.

The mortality rate has been declining, including for infants, reaching an all-time low.

At the same time, as well all know, the birth rate has been declining and we have not been able to reverse this trend so far. Of course, there are objective reasons for this caused by the sharp demographic declines we experienced back in the 1940s during the war and in the 1990s when the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Let me reiterate that improving our demography will remain a priority for us for decades to come. I will repeat that supporting families must be a priority when drafting and carrying out the national long-term development strategy and the updated national projects. These matters must transpire through all our plans and programmes.

In 2023, we devised a single system for supporting people in need and families with children, as I have already said. We must keep a close eye on this topic, and we are moving in this direction. This includes supporting women from the time they conceive a child until he or she reaches the age of 17. Parents of more than 10.5 million children have already applied for this benefit, and 375,000 pregnant women receive it too.

The maternity capital benefit remains in force.

We will improve and fine-tune other mechanisms too. There has been positive momentum on child healthcare and housing programmes, including family mortgages. There are also tax deductions on child education and treatments.

As we all know, 2024 will be the Year of the Family in Russia. We designated it that for a reason. I would like to ask our colleagues in the Government and in the regions to pay as much attention as possible to protecting mothers and children, and to strengthening family values.

This includes reviving the tradition of having three or more children in a family. As we have agreed, we need to create a status for families with many children at the federal level. This is what people have been asking for. There is a legitimate request to provide the corresponding benefits and support mechanisms with guaranteed access across the country. We must take a decision to this effect without delay.

I suggest that we move with our agenda. Mr Belousov, you have the floor. Go ahead, please.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov: Mr President, colleagues,

In December 2022, the President instructed the Government to expand economic cooperation with promising partners from friendly countries and to develop the infrastructure that is necessary to promote such cooperation, including transport and payment systems. I will begin by providing an overall assessment of the current situation.

Since 2022, unfriendly countries have been steadily trying to impose an economic blockade of Russia, aiming to isolate our country from global markets. It was necessary to break through this blockade, and we have succeeded in doing so which is evidenced primarily by stabilised exports. The exports to markets of friendly countries exceeded $360 billion in 2023, up 60 percent in physical terms compared to 2021. Trade with China reached an all-time high. As of the end of this year, Russian exports to China will exceed $110 billion, and mutual trade between Russia and China will reach $210 billion.

We continue to increase supplies to the EAEU and Arab countries. In physical terms, exports to these countries grew by over 2 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

How did we manage to accomplish this? First, we promptly restructured the system to support non-resource and non-energy exports and exports of manufactured and agricultural goods.

More than 20,000 entrepreneurs, or every fourth exporter, took advantage of the export support measures this year. Nearly 300 export projects worth nearly $7 billion were implemented using financing arrangements with easy terms.

Other measures include low-cost transport. Almost 1,000 exporters took advantage of transport incentives, enabling the realisation of export contracts worth nearly $8 billion. Insurance support for export projects to friendly countries exceeded $10 billion.

Promoting Russian brands internationally including through the Russian Export Centre's ”Made in Russia“ project, came as an important innovation this year. This year alone, over 1,500 Russian manufacturers took part in exhibitions and business missions.

As part of this project, the Russian Export Centre plans to hold the first Made in Russia festival and market in the Chinese province of Liaoning early next year. Theme-based booths will showcase over a thousand Russian-made products and offer an extensive cultural and sports programme. We plan to scale up this experience going forward.

Small businesses are actively entering the markets of friendly countries. Almost 2,500 export contracts have been signed with the assistance of regional support centres.

In total, over 60,000 small business owners have entered foreign markets this year, which is 1.2 times more than in 2021.

The One-Stop Shop digital system for exporters is developing, with already 36 services available now. About 10,000 entrepreneurs are already using the system. As a result, non-resource non-energy exports to the markets of friendly countries have grown by over 20 percent compared to 2021, and their share in Russian exports reached 84 percent compared to 67 percent in 2021.

Second. The markets of friendly countries are what made it possible to reorient energy exports. I would like to note that restricting the supply of our energy products is one of the main goals of the collective West’s steps taken against our country, from putting companies and ships on sanctions lists, and introducing price caps, to the sabotage on the Nord Streams.

At the same time, we are still supplying energy products, such as liquefied natural gas, pipeline oil and gas, oil products, and coal, to some unfriendly states. But in general, supplies to unfriendly countries have decreased 3.5 times compared to 2021, including 4.5 times to the European Union.

We used all levers and tools at our disposal to adjust the main supply directions of oil and oil products and, to a lesser extent, of gas where the inertia is greater. Today we can say that the most pressing problems of last year have generally been resolved. This primarily concerns payments and cargo insurance, as well as ensuring the tanker fleet can transport hydrocarbons by sea.

As a result, crude oil exports exceeded the 2021 figure by 7 percent, amounting to about 250 million tonnes. In monetary terms, Russian energy exports have almost reached 2021 figures and remain at a level that is comfortable for the budget and companies.

The third area includes saturating the Russian market with essential imported goods and resources. Limiting Russia’s access to imported goods was among the goals and was supposed to destabilise the socioeconomic situation in our country. This was extremely dangerous considering that unfriendly countries accounted for nearly 50 percent of Russia’s imports in 2021. However, by 2022, the share of imports from unfriendly countries had decreased to 35 percent, and in 2023, to 29 percent. Meanwhile, overall imports exceeded the 2021 figures and amounted to approximately $300 billion.

This was achieved by leveraging the parallel imports mechanism, under which essential products worth over $70 billion were imported in a matter of two years. Imported equipment that could not be replaced by similar Russian-made equipment was exempted from VAT. Over two years, Russian companies obtained benefits to the tune of 105 billion rubles.

Import customs duties were set to zero as a blanket measure, with businesses saving over 130 billion rubles. Preferential import duties were made available for investment projects, with the amounts of benefits totalling 1 billion rubles.

A programme supporting top priority imports is underway, and easy-term loans totalling 400 billion rubles have been issued under it. With that, the goal of providing Russian enterprises and consumers with essential goods has been successfully fulfilled, and the share of partners from friendly countries in total imports increased to 70 percent.

The fourth area includes ensuring a fundamental restructuring of export freight flows to access the markets of friendly countries. Systematic work has been carried out with regard to priority international transport corridors based on the roadmaps approved by the Government in December 2022. The progress is reviewed twice a month by the transport and logistics corridor office. This year, a total of over 550 million tonnes of cargo will be transported using these corridors, which is 17 percent more than in 2021. Specifically, over 300 million tonnes, 11 percent more than in 2021, have been transported through the Eastern Corridor, around 220 million tonnes, 24 percent more than in 2021, through the Azov-Black Sea Corridor, and around 19 million tonnes, 38 percent more than in 2021, through the North-South Corridor.

The Eastern Corridor is the main priority. Russian Railways – dare I say it – is making a titanic effort to expand capacity and overall traffic volume. This year they increased capacity to 173 million tonnes, and next year it will be about 180 million tonnes – the target set in the President’s executive order.

New specialised transport and logistics centres and auxiliary logistics platforms have been built. By the end of the year, Russian Railways will achieve a record number of container shipments – 7.5 million TEUs. This is a 15 percent increase over 2021.

The problem of queues at checkpoints has received a system-wide solution, primarily, at the borders with friendly countries. Capacity has been increased by 1.5 times. And work has been launched to upgrade highways that are part of international corridors.

The new highway bypasses around Krasnodar and Aksai have been completed; construction of the Khasavyurt bypass has been launched as has the modernisation of the seaport infrastructure in Novorossiisk, Taman and Tuapse, and on inland waterways on the Volga and Don rivers that are part of the international transport corridors.

The dredging of the Volga-Caspian Navigation Canal and the Port of Makhachkala has been completed in the south. This will allow ships with a draft of up to four meters to use this canal.

Regular railway service has been launched on the eastern section of the North-South Corridor via Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.

I can say that generally all of our plans are now being carried out. We hope that by 2030, we will be able to bring freight volume via these transport corridors to almost 670 million tonnes a year, one and a half times more than 2021.

The fifth area is the creation of the new payment infrastructure. Unfriendly actions by the United States and its allies have encouraged an accelerated transition to foreign trade transactions in national currencies.

In 2023, the total share of the ruble and national currencies of the friendly countries in transactions for the export and import of goods and services will be around 65 percent. It was only 22 percent in 2021.

The following has been done. First, correspondent banking relationships with foreign credit institutions were sharply expanded. The number of Russian banks that have accounts with friendly countries has almost doubled in the past two years while the total number of such correspondent accounts increased by almost 1.5 times to over 2,000.

Second, transactions between countries started using financial information exchange channels other than SWIFT, primarily, the Bank of Russia’s Financial Messaging System. At present, 150 non-resident banks from 16 countries are using this system.

Third, the stock exchange is offering ten currencies from friendly countries to make settlement of accounts in national currencies easier.

Fourth, digital assets are beginning to be used in foreign trade transactions. Eventually, bilateral transactions will be made with the digital ruble and other banking currencies of central banks. The Bank of Russia is making rapid progress in implementing this project.

Fifth, acceptance of the Mir payment card abroad is an important element in the payment infrastructure. Today, Mir cards are accepted in ten countries. Talks on this issue are underway with a number of other countries.

Mr President, colleagues,

The tentative results of the year give us reason to say that the Russian economy has adapted to the sanctions pressure overall. By developing effective interaction with our partners from friendly states and prompt development of the necessary instruments for supporting Russian businesses, we have managed to preserve the country’s export potential and provide people and companies with the necessary goods and resources.

In general, it is possible to say that the Russian economy has found a balance between exports and imports. This is evidenced by the stabilisation of the currency at 90 rubles per dollar. This is acceptable for exports and the consumer and investment markets in the country. All of this will allow us to turn from quick solutions to the strategic agenda.

Under the instructions of the President of the Russian Federation, we are completing the drafting of the strategy for the development of the foreign economic activities of the Russian Federation up to 2030.

The goal of the Strategy is to position Russia among the leaders of a multipolar world which carries out its own national development agenda and ensures its economic, financial, and technological sovereignty. Once implemented, the Strategy should securely establish Russia in the new markets for it to fully realise its foreign economic potential, to build a network of partnerships with friendly countries, to facilitate technological cooperation in order to modernise the industrial and technological base, and to create a workable multilateral infrastructure to support foreign economic relations.

The draft Strategy was reviewed last week during a strategic session with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. According to the deadline, the Strategy will be approved before March 1, 2024.

Thank you for your time.


Vladimir Putin: We know there are issues that need extra time before they can be resolved. However, in general, I will not delve into details, there are many issues that need our attention, and it just makes sense with the volume of work at hand. There are many issues to address in the social sphere, the economy, and finance, since we need to enhance the balance and stability of the financial system and in other areas as well.

But overall, the state of affairs is satisfactory. We have achieved the targets almost across all areas that we consider top priorities and are most important for ensuring the country’s sustainable progress and improving people's well-being.

To reiterate, the more we accomplish, the more horizons open revealing what else needs to be done. This is absolutely clear, and it is how things are. There is no way around it, and we just should be happy to see new tasks emerge that we need to deal with.

However, without a doubt, the people expect us to deliver not on paper, as I have said many times, but in their everyday life.

I think that the pace that the Government has reached clearly shows that we are capable of overcoming these challenges.

I would like to thank you for the good work and express hope that we will continue to work without losing tempo, including on issues that need extra attention. This is what I would like to close with.

Thank you very much. All the best.

December 21, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow