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Meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

May 26, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting, via videoconference, with Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, good afternoon.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, as agreed, today we will hold a small online meeting on implementing the instructions of recent months and weeks. How is the work going on?

Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, on the whole, quite active and, most importantly, productive work is underway on all your instructions. One of your main instructions was to monitor the defence industry and defence enterprises.

I want to report that today, 990 out of 1,013 enterprises in the defence industry, parent enterprises, are operating. Of these 990 enterprises, 896 enterprises have over 90 percent of the personnel, both engineering and technical, working on site.

This is naturally producing results. The results are that we have managed to stabilise all areas where we had some concern about a possible failure in fulfilling the state defence order.

Moreover, Mr President, in the first quarter – and I think the situation will be the same in the second quarter – since the beginning of the year, we have received more than 750 basic models of the latest weapons and military equipment. These includes 58 airplanes and helicopters, over 40 armoured vehicles, over 500 multi-purpose vehicles, and 75 sets of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Production capacity, if we take the entire defence industry as a whole, is up to 72 percent. This is where direct presence at a factory is required. The rest can work remotely, which, in fact, is happening.

The Armed Forces are carrying out the full range of anti-epidemiological measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. Since March 14, the Operational Headquarters has been fully controlling the situation.

Under your instructions, Mr President, to help Italy, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Armenia in the fight against the coronavirus infection, 140 localities have been disinfected. Here we are talking about Italy and Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At this point, the work of the combined units in these countries has been completed. All our units have been withdrawn, equipment and personnel returned to their permanent bases. All service members are fine, and are quarantined.

Overall, military transport aviation – another of your instructions, to support both the Healthcare Ministry and the Industry and Trade Ministry – military transport aviation has completed 134 flights, transporting over 2,500 tonnes of cargo for federal executive bodies, ministries and agencies and the regions of the Russian Federation.

Your next instruction, Mr President, was to join in the coronavirus response efforts on the territory of the Russian Federation. Since April 15, the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops (NBC Protection Troops) have disinfected facilities at 200 defence industry enterprises. We have already reported on the opening of 16 multifunctional centres. The NBC Protection Troops have disinfected 95,243 facilities with a total area of 22 million square metres, 157 aircraft, and 18,000 vehicles.

The 48th Central Research Institute of the NBC Protection Troops, together with the Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Healthcare Ministry, is developing a recombinant vaccine against the novel coronavirus. Currently, the institute’s specialists are completing preclinical trials for an experimental vaccine. This should be completed by June 1. Clinical trials are planned to be completed by the end of July.

On May 20, under your instructions for the Krasnoyarsk Territory, we provided assistance at the Olimpiada mining and processing integrated plant. A mobile hospital with 100 beds has been deployed there, and 57 patients are now being treated there. On May 21, a field camp for medical observation with 2,000 beds was transferred to the plant. A mobile unit has disinfected 161 facilities there. About 1,000 people have been quarantined at the observation facility.

Over 300 military personnel and about 100 pieces of special military equipment were deployed in the Republic of Daghestan to fight the pandemic; this instruction was issued a week ago. Two field hospitals with 100 beds each were deployed in Buinaksk on May 23 and in Botlikh on May 25. As of today, 126 people already came to the hospital, 25 of them were hospitalised. Moreover, there are three observation stations with a total capacity of 1,000 beds. We plan to build another medical centre with advanced equipment in Voronezh by June 30, in line with your instruction. The work is already underway, it is 40 percent complete. There will also be three centres in Daghestan: in Kaspiysk, Derbent and Khasavyurt with the total capacity of another 200 beds.

Now to other issues related to the Defence Ministry and military service. The graduation and holidays were organised for cadets at higher education institutions and students at pre-university schools. Out of 62,000 cadets at 36 higher education institutions, 218 are in hospital. All the rest are healthy.

We passed the peak of the infection outbreak in the Armed Forces in the second half of April. A total of 5,500 people have tested positive in the Armed Forces since early March. As of today, 3,500 were treated and discharged from hospitals. By the beginning of June, the situation in the Armed Force should return to normal.

Mr President, amid the new challenges due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, the Armed Forces didn’t allow any combat degradation and continue to carry out all planned events and education and military activities.

The nuclear triad is maintained at a level adequate to guarantee strategic deterrence. We requested this from you, Mr President. Thank you. After your commands, I mean testing, and the transfer of the new equipment – submarines and surface ships –to us, all the steps were taken and testing is proceeding as planned. I believe we will have the equipment on schedule.

Long-range aviation successfully patrols Russia’s borders. We have upgraded equipment here too: Tu-22 aircraft. These are almost new planes: I will not go into the technical specifications now. You have seen this plane. They are currently being upgraded at Kazan-based plants.

Our Navy ships are currently on active duty in strategically important regions of the world. Currently, 57 combat ships and logistics vessels are at sea, including 30 in remote maritime zones.

Russian troops in Syria continue to pursue peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

Overall, the coronavirus situation has not significantly affected the activities of the Armed Forces.

The winter training programme was completed almost in full. Only a few events were rescheduled for June – August. These concern joint exercises with our foreign colleagues. Specifically, we have rescheduled military exercises in foreign countries for June through August.

The conscription process is proceeding smoothly. New recruits began to arrive at their military units after May 20. The complete list of measures is being followed to ensure safe conscription and arrival at the service units. Military commissariats have received 2.2 million test kits. Laboratories have been deployed at every facility. Apart from that, we naturally provided safe transportation of conscripts to their units, meaning they are separated from civilians in rail and air transport.

The summer training period will start in the units on June 1. It includes over 3,600 combat training events. Also, Mr President, per our annual tradition, we have started to prepare, under your instructions, for Sochi meetings on the military industrial complex, new weaponry and, of course, on deliveries and receiving into service. I hope we will able to hold the meeting and hear the reports.

We are focusing specifically on preparations for the Caucasus 2020 strategic command post exercise. A military group from six countries, including our partners in the SCO and CSTO, is to participate, like in the past couple of years.

In late August we plan to hold the Army International Military-Technical Forum and the International Army Games.

Overall, the goals you have set for 2020, will be fulfilled.

This concludes my report.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, thank you for this detailed report.

I would like to once again commend the professional work of the military personnel. Military medics and the Defence Ministry units who provided support to the citizens of Italy, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as several other countries acted to the best of their ability in the fight against the coronavirus infection. It should be said that some of these countries have offered assistance to us as well. However, our specialists believe that we are past the peak of the coronavirus epidemic. But your efforts have contributed to cooperation with our partners around the world.

You are now working in Daghestan and other Russian regions. The Defence Ministry specialists are acting courageously and professionally, helping to promptly localise the outbreak.

You also acted rapidly to deploy 16 multifunctional medical centres in the Russian regions. I have no doubt that such up-to-date hospitals will open in Daghestan and the Voronezh Region on schedule, just as we planned.

It is extremely important that planned training continues in these difficult weeks and months, with vital national defence tasks fulfilled and this year’s conscripts safely protected thanks to the proactive measures that have been taken against the spread of the infection.

Since the situation in the country as a whole, including in the majority of the regions and in the Armed Forces, remains stable and is stabilising in other regions after we reached the peak of the outbreak, I consider it possible to announce the following decisions.

I am ordering the start of preparations for military parades to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, the capital of Russia, and in other cities. We will hold them on June 24, the day when the historical Victory Parade was held in 1945 in Red Square by the defenders of Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad, those who liberated Europe and stormed Berlin.

You must ensure strict compliance with safety requirements during the preparation and the holding of the parade. The risks for its participants must be kept to a minimum or better still excluded.

Regrettably, we cannot ensure strict safety compliance during the Immortal Regiment march, which brings together millions of people who fill the streets of our cities. Of course, there can be no social distancing in this situation.

Nevertheless, I propose holding the Immortal Regiment march, although not after the June 24 parade but a month later, on July 26, when we celebrate Navy Day, one more day of our military glory. I order you to hold a traditional naval parade at the main bases of the Russian Navy on that day.

I would like to point out that we will be closely monitoring the developments to assess potential risks in the coming months. Of course, if medical specialists tell us that it would be impossible to ensure complete safety, we may have to postpone the Immortal Regiment march. But I hope that we will be able to hold all these events on the dates I have mentioned.

Once again, a responsible approach is what matters. As I have said, the life, health and security of people are the absolute value for us.

Proceed with the execution of my orders.

Sergei Shoigu: Will do, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

May 26, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region