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Meeting with Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev

February 9, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin and Vitaly Savelyev held a working meeting at the Kremlin.

The Minister of Transport told the President about the performance of the national transport sector in 2022, including the adopted anti-sanctions measures. They also discussed the current goals of the industry, in part, the development of the auto industry and railway transport and the port infrastructure, while devoting special attention to aviation.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I am listening, Mr Savelyev.

Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev: Mr President, I would like to report on the Ministry of Transport’s performance.

In 2022, despite the transport blockade imposed on us by our “partners,” as you call them, the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation has fulfilled its goals on building up the infrastructure and passenger volumes. I would like to report on this.

Record budget spending figures are unique for us because this is the first time we spent as much as 2.58 trillion rubles. This never happened before. I will show you these figures on the graph, if I may. For instance, 15 years ago, in 2007 a mere 340 billion was allocated and 87 percent of it was spent; in 2020, we spent 99 percent of the budget – 1.21 trillion; in 2021, the figures were 1.69 trillion and 99.4 percent.

This year, we set a record on spending the budgeted allocations – 99.91 percent. We did not use one billion rubles.

Vladimir Putin: Did you return it to the budget?

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes, we did, but these figures are still very high.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.

Vitaly Savelyev: They are record figures.

What would I like to note? In the past 15 years, funding has increased six times over with your support, which affects the development rate of the entire transport infrastructure.

Since 2020, funding has increased by 69 percent. Our funding has almost doubled. These are enormous sums, and our task is to spend them.

(Points to the slide). I would simply like to show you some things. This is Kaluga’s northern by-pass. If you remember, you either opened these facilities or took part in a construction ceremony. Since 2019, 14.5 billion rubles were spent under the Safe and Quality Roads national project: 21 kilometres, the last 0.7 kilometres, ten bridges and bridge crossings.

These are the figures bearing on the budget.

Vladimir Putin: No shaking at the joints?

Vitaly Savelyev: Nobody seems to complain. Everything is all right.

I would like to present a brief report on various types of transport.

This slide shows the road sector. Today, we have 1,566,000 kilometres of roads – 64,500 kilometres of federal roads, almost 1 million kilometres of local roads, and 503,000 kilometres of regional roads. This is a lot.

(Points to information slide.) Here, we opened the Arkhangelsky cable-stayed bridge across the river; you attended, if you remember.

Vladimir Putin: Across the Sheksna?

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes, across the Sheksna.

Traffic is opened on the Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod-Kazan motorway. We will complete it with the early funding. We were working on these facilities here.

It is also important to mention the amount of funding for roads. This is also enormous support for the entire industry and for roads specifically. We spend 3.2 trillion rubles a year on roads, of which 1.7 trillion comes from regional and local budgets, and 1.5 trillion from the federal budget. And look at the increase; there was an almost 100 percent increase from 2018 to 2022. This is a huge growth. So, we will be…

Vladimir Putin: From 1.6 to 3.2 trillion rubles.

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes, these are huge amounts. Mr President, thank you for the support, because spending on this scale naturally produces extensive, tangible results.

As for civil aviation, I can only tell you what has not been mentioned. Overall, we have 1,293 airplanes. Minus cargo planes, this makes 1,163 passenger planes. We have enough aircraft for the foreseeable future.

Today, 53 airlines serve the Russian Federation. Fourteen carriers fly to 22 countries from Russia; and airlines from 27 countries fly here.

The support for the industry that we received thanks to you totaled 174.2 billion rubles. This is also a lot of funding. It enabled us to stabilise companies, retain their teams and improve airports. With your support, we even funded a closed airport in the south. This was important. All these funds allow us to work steadily in these conditions, regardless of everything else.

I would like to mention something that is noted here. This required very hard work over several years, but now all of our airlines have converted to domestic software. We have been working on this since October, and it will be further refined in the normal course of our work.

Vladimir Putin: This was one of the main goals, wasn’t it?

Vitaly Savelyev: It was, and everything was done on schedule. There were no real problems.

I think you know everything about railway transport already.

(Points to information materials.) We put these sites in operation last year. Russian Railways fulfilled the goal of the Eastern Operating Domain’s capacity of 158 million tonnes, which we planned last year. They show excellent performance numbers. I am aware that you had a meeting with Oleg Belozerov [CEO of Russian Railways].

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I did.

Vitaly Savelyev: This year our goal is to transport 173 million tonnes. I believe this should not be a problem. And then 180 million tonnes in 2024.

So far, the figures have been encouraging. I think we will have this implemented soon.

Vladimir Putin: Who built the transshipment facility in the Primorye Territory?

Vitaly Savelyev: It is a coal complex. I cannot give you the name of the company now.

Vladimir Putin: It was a company from Yakutia, wasn’t it?

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes. And NOVATEK did …

Vladimir Putin: Kamchatka.

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes, Kamchatka…

Vladimir Putin: Mr Misharin was in charge of Taman, I think.

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes, it is his company. They are working with bulk cargoes as well.

Importantly, the length of the waterways that can be used by cargo ships is almost 102,000 kilometres which is second only to China with its 126,000 kilometres and is twice as long as in Europe, Germany, for example, or in the United States. However, our contribution to GDP is under 2 percent, whereas they account for 6.8 percent of GDP.

Our current goal is to deepen our main rivers, the Volga and the Don rivers. We are building the Gorodetsky hydroelectric complex on the Volga, and the Bagaevsky hydroelectric complex on the Don. The construction will be completed in 2024 and will sharply raise the level of the Azov Sea-Black Sea corridor.

Vladimir Putin: I see the seaport capacity has also increased.

Vitaly Savelyev: It has.

Vladimir Putin: By 36 million tonnes, I think.

Vitaly Savelyev: First, we now have Mariupol and Berdyansk, which brings the total to 63 seaports. We see the capacity expand, and the ports bring it up from 835 tonnes to almost 2 million tonnes, which is a significant number.

Border checkpoints. You know, Mr President, Russia has the longest border – 61,500 kilometres, of which 23,000 kilometres are land borders and 38,000 are maritime borders. A total of 377 checkpoints, and 314 of them are open.

We have made significant progress thanks to your support and the funds allocated.

Over the five years from 2017 to 2021, we implemented only 64 projects, while in 2022, we carried out as many as 65 in one year. I will tell you about them later. This year, we are going to implement more than 73.

As to our bottlenecks, there is the Russian-Azerbaijani border, for example. It is a short stretch in terms of length, only 326 kilometres, but it has five checkpoints: Derbent, a railway checkpoint, another checkpoint in the mountains for pedestrian crossing, Yarag-Kazmalyar – a landmark checkpoint I hope we will finish this year, I am sure of it, Tagirkent-Kazmalyar and Novo-Filya.

What have we done?

(Points to visual materials.) Look, we have increased through traffic by 700 trucks via Yarag-Kazmalyar, so actually, we have widened the bottlenecks.

The next section, which is very important, is the Russia-China border. It is 4,200 kilometres long, and there are 28 checkpoints, of which only 18 are open today due to Covid restrictions. Here we have increased the number of railway checkpoints in accordance with the pairs of trains. For example, the Zabaikalsk railway checkpoint, which is very important for us, can now handle up to 30 pairs of trains theoretically (the actual traffic is half that number at present), that is, has extra available capacity.

And this is very important, if you remember: Verkhny Lars is a very old problem. However, we managed to achieve something, although…

Vladimir Putin: It closes in winter.

Vyacheslav Savelyev: There is a period of landslides indeed. But we have built 24 additional lanes there. The Terek is pressing them on one side, and on the other side, there is a mountain, so we built them diagonally. And now we have 15 passages for trucks and 12 for cars. That is, the checkpoint can now handle more than 4,500 or 4,700 vehicles a day. We have widened a major bottleneck.

Therefore, I hope that we will gradually streamline all the border checkpoints. We have developed a standard checkpoint format and are now trying to introduce it, to develop a standard for everyone else, to scale it.

As you may be aware, we are working on two massive infrastructure projects.

We posted record high numbers under the comprehensive plan for upgrading and expanding the main infrastructure as well. We have fulfilled it by 97.82 percent which is an excellent figure.

(Points to informational materials.) Take a look at the target number and the actual result: we have exceeded every target under the Comprehensive Modernisation Plan, and I believe we will finish many projects this year, which is critical to ensure development.

Safe High-Quality Roads is another major national project. We implemented this at a record 97.82 percent. Not everything depends on the Ministry of Transport, and benchmarks provided by other ministries are included here as well.

As per your instruction, we must bring 85 percent of the federal roads in agglomerations up to code (as of today, this number stands at 79.3 percent) and 50 percent of the federal roads in the regions. If properly funded, we will finish this work ahead of schedule.

Vladimir Putin: By 2030?

Vitaly Savelyev: No, by 2024. But I think we can have it done by the beginning of next year.

Vladimir Putin: That is, 85 percent by 2024?

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: So, this needs to be finished this year?

Vitaly Savelyev: In fact, I believe, it says through 2024. Nevertheless, this is not included in the official benchmarks, and we discussed this with you. We have 136 …

Vladimir Putin: But you are ahead of schedule as it is.

Vitaly Savelyev: We are.

Vladimir Putin: The target was…

Vitaly Savelyev: 77 percent according to the plan, and we now stand at 79 percent.

There are also 136,000 kilometres worth of core road networks, which include federal networks, federal roads, and some regional roads. Here, too, we are working to finish everything we mentioned above by 2030. We have good reason to believe we can do that.

Mr President, this slide shows our legislative activities. We are working hard in this regard. The slide shows that we adopted 30 federal laws in 2017–2019, and 51 laws in 2020–2022. We are working hard in this regard. There are seminal laws that we need today, especially given the circumstances. This is to say that the Ministry of Transport is doing quite well in this area as well.

The last slide, Mr President, shows our transport corridors; you know them well: these are the North-South, the Azov-Black Sea direction, and the East.

(Pointing to information materials.) Our main direction now is North-South, as shown here. Here we have three directions, it sorts of splits into three corridors. There is a western corridor, which goes along the side of Azerbaijan. Here we have a bottleneck, Rasht – Astara, 162 km long. But, you know, we have a solution.

Vladimir Putin: It costs about 600 billion.

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes. It is 162 km long. It can be completed, according to our estimate…

Vladimir Putin: In four years.

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes. You know everything. There are 162 km there, or four years, if we remain in the track of 1,435 mm, which is very important, and then we can already move.

The second is the Trans-Caspian route. This is a very important route, with three of our ports involved: Makhachkala, Olya and Astrakhan.

Vladimir Putin: Here is the first section, 162 km long, and a 1,520-millimeter track can be made in four years. What is the difference?

Vitaly Savelyev: In my opinion, we will not be able to do 1,520 in four years.

Vladimir Putin: Why? Because of bureaucracy?

Vitaly Savelyev: No. I can answer. Now we have an offer…

Vladimir Putin: I do not only mean our bureaucracy, but also external bureaucracy.

Vitaly Savelyev: Of course, in general.

What we can do? We are now making a complex track.

Vladimir Putin: I know.

Vitaly Savelyev: So, we will now set 1,435 mm for the time being. If we see it can be changed to 1,520, which is what we are talking about, we simply add more rails.

Vladimir Putin: There is no need to add them. Put broader ones from the beginning.

Vitaly Savelyev: It will be a different sum then.

Vladimir Putin: The difference is 400 million.

Vitaly Savelyev: I promise to look it through separately.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Vitaly Savelyev: And what I was starting to talk about is the Trans-Caspian Sea crossing. There are three ports used there. It had to do with dredging, there were problems: when there is an outflow, the level drops to 3.5 m there. Vessels are underloaded, so efficiency is decreasing.

Last year we deepened it for the first time, scooped out five million tons of silt and soil. This year we have to move 12 million tonnes. We have already sent there 16 special trains and dredgers that can do all this within the specified time frame.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Savelyev, I meant to put long sleepers to begin with. It is possible not to lay 1,520.

Vitaly Savelyev: Yes, we are doing that.

Vladimir Putin: But lay the sleepers on which you can put 1,520.

Vitaly Savelyev: This is what we are doing. The complex sleeper can provide for this.

Vladimir Putin: And the difference will be only 400 million rubles. This is also a lot of money, but it creates prospects for development along our wider track.

Vitaly Savelyev: And the third one is the eastern route, you know, which goes through Turkmenistan. We are currently working on this route. We will transport one million tons of cargo. The eastern direction is the Eastern Operating Domain, you know the course of its development well.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

February 9, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow