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Expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board

December 21, 2020, Moscow

Vladimir Putin visited the National Defence Control Centre where he took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board. 

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers,

As custom has it, during this expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board today, we will analyse the performance of the Defence Ministry in 2020 and identify priorities for the further development of the Armed Forces.

This year has been challenging for everybody. As you know, the world has faced the coronavirus pandemic. One would think that it is high time for state leaders and the entire global community to show utmost responsibility and join efforts. But unfortunately, that has not always been the case. We have seen new regional conflicts break out and old, years-long conflicts escalate. Attempts have been made to undermine global stability.

I would like to stress that in these difficult and essentially unprecedented circumstances, the Defence Ministry and divisions of the Army and the Navy have performed their tasks in a professional and efficient manner. I am talking about combat alert duty, military training, conscription and, of course, the re-equipment of the Armed Forces, which is the key task.

I spoke to Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov last night and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu this morning about this work and how it was done in our country in the past. It is really something worth knowing. In the Soviet Union, the share of modern equipment in the Soviet Army’s general-purpose forces was 54 percent, and in the strategic and nuclear forces 65 to 70 percent. That is a pretty good number. In 2000, the share of modern equipment in the general-purpose forces dropped to a critically low of 12 percent, and in the nuclear deterrence forces to 35 percent. I remember very well my first conversations on the issue with then Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev. He was a very decent person and a high-calibre missile expert. He told me: “What can I do? We do not even have enough money to maintain the nuclear forces.” What about now? As of mid-December 2020, the share of modern weapons and equipment in the Russian military is over 70 percent for the general-purpose forces and 86 percent for the nuclear forces.

Therefore, our Army and, most importantly, our nuclear triad have reached the level that guarantees Russia’s security.

There is something I really need to underscore. It is absolutely unacceptable to stand idle. The pace of change in all areas that are critical for the Armed Forces is unusually fast today. It is not even Formula 1 fast – it is supersonic fast. You stop for one second and you start falling behind immediately.

Therefore, as soon as in 2021, in our nuclear deterrent forces, we must reach a level of 88.3 percent of modern weapons. We know exactly what needs to be done and for which weapons. As for our general-purpose forces, they should reach a level of 75.9 percent by 2024, that is, almost 76 percent.

This year, our troops have shown high combat readiness and the ability to effectively fulfill complex and non-standard tasks in more than 5,700 exercises and drills at various levels, including the large-scale Caucasus-2020 exercise involving military contingents from five other countries.

Our service members are acting responsibly and courageously in Syria. In fact, their daily work is the most important stability factor in that country and in the entire region.

On November 10, Russian peacekeepers embarked on a very difficult mission in Nagorno-Karabakh. Their presence is now a guarantee of the parties’ compliance with the agreements on the cessation of hostilities. They are also doing a lot to improve the humanitarian situation and help refugees, to de-mine the area and rebuild social infrastructure, as well as to preserve the local cultural, historical and religious landmarks.

Unfortunately, they risk themselves not without losses; they risk their lives so that a peaceful life would return to this land.

Comrade officers,

All of us – the country's government and citizens – are grateful to the Russian Army for its invaluable contribution to the common fight against the coronavirus infection, something I mentioned at the beginning, for the help that was so timely and effective, tangible.

With the recently opened medical centre in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, in nine months, the Ministry of Defence has quickly built 30 medical centres for patients with this dangerous infection. Eight mobile hospitals have been deployed in the regions with particularly challenging situation. I know that those specialists, military builders worked as if in combat conditions, and acted according to wartime or front-line laws, when an assigned task has to be completed at all costs, no matter what.

I should add that since the beginning of the epidemic, military medical organisations have accepted almost 37,000 coronavirus patients for inpatient treatment, including around 13,000 civilians. Military doctors, mid-level and junior medical staff (over 18,000 medical workers) not only did everything they could to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Army and the Navy but also helped their colleagues working in civilian healthcare, including as members of mobile teams. They have been performing their duties with professionalism, discipline and extreme dedication. They have spared no effort and often worked overtime to help people in distress. As is always the case, these examples prove the common Russian saying: “Our people and army are united.” We can see that these are not just empty words.

Once again, I would like to say a huge thank you to military and civilian construction workers for their fast and high quality work on the construction of new medical centres. I want to thank all representatives of the military medical service for their courage and selflessness in combating the epidemic.

I would like to note that, despite the difficult epidemiologic situation, a military parade was held on Red Square and in 27 cities to mark the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory. The Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces and the Road of Memory Museum Complex were opened. Many other campaigns to commemorate this significant date were held in the online format.

Comrade officers,

As I said, the military and political situation in the world remains complicated. There are high risks of escalation in the South Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa and other regions. NATO’s military activity persists. Unfortunately, the arms control system continues to deteriorate. Under contrived pretexts, the United States has already withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty. There is uncertainty with regard to the New START which, as you know, will expire in February 2021. We have repeatedly stated our readiness to extend the treaty but there has been no response.

Needless to say, we are analysing the current geostrategic, military and political situation in detail and predicting possible scenarios for future developments.

State defence planning for the next five years was completed in 2020. We took all the existing and potential threats to Russian security into account as well as the growing combat capabilities of our Army and Navy.

The main conclusion is obvious. We will continue to work actively on the qualitative development of the Armed Forces, enhancing their combat readiness and efficiency. I have just spoken about this, at the beginning.

In this context, I am instructing you to focus on the following key tasks.

First, it is necessary to maintain our nuclear weapons in high combat readiness and develop all components of the nuclear triad. This is of fundamental importance to ensure our national security and preserve strategic parity in the world. We discussed this specifically, in detail during our most recent session of meetings last November in Sochi. As you know, such meetings have already become traditional. Our approaches in this area are strictly defensive and set forth in the 2020 document On the Principles of State Nuclear Deterrence Policy of the Russian Federation.

The second point, it is as important to consolidate the potential of the non-nuclear deterrent capability, primarily high-precision weapons. We do not intend to produce and deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles in the European part of Russia or in other areas of the country, for that matter. However, we must be ready to respond in a timely manner to the Western countries’ deployment of counterpart missiles near our borders. If we are forced to, we must take all response measures and do this in the shortest time possible. I have no doubt that we will do this, both as regards the deployment locations of the relevant systems and their control centres.

The third point. We must continue smoothly reequipping the Army and the Navy with modern weapons and hardware. In other words, the assignments of the state defence order must be fulfilled strictly on time. I would like to emphasise that with respect to strategic forces, we have already done serious research and technology groundwork on pieces of equipment that have no counterparts in the world. Our general-purpose forces must be developed in the same way. Let me add that the Defence Ministry and defence enterprises must review the question of signing long-term contracts on all the main types of weapons. At the same time it is necessary to absolutely rule out unjustified increases in the costs of orders, use rational pricing procedures.

The fourth point, the technical modernisation of the Army and the Navy requires the introduction of new forms and methods of combat action. It is necessary to develop military science for this purpose. It is not enough just to study the experience of current armed conflicts and local wars. It is also essential to make forecasts for the future, in part, to take into consideration the appearance of weapons based on new physical principles in the armies of some Western countries. We know this and are working on it, but we must constantly keep our attention focused on it.

Fifth, combat training must include more active use of weapons and equipment with AI elements, which we discussed at the Security Council meeting only recently, including robotic vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and automated control and command systems. Such weapons can increase the combat capability of units several times over and will largely determine the outcome of hostilities today and in the near future. In addition, new approaches to using the Union State’s regional group must be tested during the upcoming Zapad 2021 (West) exercises.

Some of our neighbours are already showing increased interest in our plans for the exercise. But we traditionally invite observers to them. Mr Shoigu, we must invite them this time as well. Let them watch: we are open in this sense.

Comrade officers,

One of our main objectives and clear priorities is to raise the standards of social guarantees for the country’s defenders. I would like to note that the military pay was increased by 3 percent on October 1, 2020.

We also keep up the pace of housing construction for the military personnel. Over the past three years, more than 15,000 of our military personnel have bought housing with federal subsidies, and 108,000 have been issued military-provided flats. In 2021–2023, another 10,000 of our service people will receive permanent flats and 90,000, military-provided housing.

The savings and mortgage system is quite effective. In 2018–2020, it has been used to provide housing to over 57,000 of our military personnel. Another 55,000 will use it to buy housing in the next three years.

Taken together, in 2018–2023, nearly 138,000 of our military personnel will have acquired permanent housing, and 198,000 will have been issued military-provided housing. The latter figure will be even larger with due account for sublease subsidies, which have been issued to 59,600 people in 2020 alone.

We will continue improving living conditions for our military personnel, their families and military pensioners. I am sure, and you no doubt share this view, that the wellbeing of our military personnel will strengthen the combat capability of the Army and the Navy, as well as national security, and will also enhance the prestige of military service.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Defence Ministry leadership and staff for the 2020 results.

I am sure that you will continue to attain your objectives in the same commendable manner.

Thank you.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,

In 2020, the geography of challenges expanded, and the role of the armed force in resolving international problems increased. NATO sees Russia as the main threat to their military build-up on our borders.

The United States has started redeploying its combat units from Germany to Poland and the Baltic countries. The reconnaissance and demonstration actions of US aircraft and warships near Russian borders have become 15 percent more active over the past year.

The US is building up the forward presence of US ships in the Arctic. NATO’s exercises, conducted simultaneously at Russia’s western, southern and eastern borders have become systematic. In August and September alone, they involved 55 warplanes, including strategic bombers and 12 ships that carry precision weapons. We are closely following these exercises and we respond appropriately.

Our nuclear triad is maintained at a level that guarantees strategic deterrence. Over 95 percent of our strategic missile forces are continuously ready for combat use. Our long-range aircraft are successfully patrolling the air space. This year, our strategic missile carriers performed 50 flights on pre-set routes. Our nuclear missile submarines are on scheduled combat service in assigned areas in the World Ocean.

The high combat readiness of our strategic nuclear forces is ensured by the unprecedented level of our modern arms, which stands at 86 percent. This year, three missile regiments of the strategic missile forces have been reequipped with Yars missiles. The 1st regiment continues to be reequipped with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle. The aviation strategic nuclear forces have been armed with five upgraded Tu-95 MS missile carriers.

The Navy has received a flagship Borei-A class nuclear-powered submarine Knyaz Vladimir armed with Bulava ballistic missiles and cutting-edge systems for overcoming missile defence. Modern infrastructure has been created for the Yars and Avangard missile systems. This year over 950 structures and facilities have been built for the strategic missile forces.

Ground forces have received over 3,500 new and upgraded weapons, including 220 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, and over 1,500 pieces of automotive equipment. A new motor rifle division – missile artillery brigades – has been established.

Thirteen military units have been formed in the Aerospace Forces, including a military transport aviation regiment and an anti-aircraft missile regiment. As many as 147 aircraft and over 150 pieces of air defence equipment, including four S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and 24 Pantsir-S combat vehicles, have been fielded.

In order to develop the military airfield network, runways at 14 airfields have been upgraded and over 270 buildings and structures have been built. The Aerospace Forces began to receive the first modern Inokhodets (Ambler) and Forpost reconnaissance and attack medium-range UAVs.

The Unified Space System (USS) has boosted its combat capabilities. The fourth Kupol spacecraft was launched in May, thus completing the second phase of USS orbital group deployment. The launch complex for the Soyuz-2 missiles and the assembly-and-testing complex for heavy-duty booster rockets were renovated. The test launch of the Angara-A5 rocket with a mass-dimensional model of a spacecraft was successfully completed.

The Navy received 2 modern submarines, 7 surface ships, 10 combat boats, and 10 ships and support boats. The number of Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems reached 74 percent of the target number this year. A motorised rifle division and a coastal missile brigade have been formed in the Navy. The Black Sea Fleet headquarters was rebuilt and its control system was thoroughly upgraded.

The Caspian Flotilla military infrastructure, including a mooring front, has been commissioned in Makhachkala. The 3-km long northern and southern breakwaters at its main base in Kaspiysk have been completed.

Thus, the goal of rearmament as instructed by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief in the May 2012 Executive Order has been achieved. The level of modern weapons in the Armed Forces now stands at 70.1 percent. In order to increase it, the Defence Ministry is working to improve the cost strategy that made it possible to exclude an unsubstantiated increase in the cost of government contracts in 2018–2020, to preserve the state armament programme in the amount of 551 billion rubles, and to use these funds for re-equipping the troops.

The use of forward funding will make it possible to cope with the shortage of allocations for building open ocean ships and reducing the deadlines for delivering modern aircraft.

At present, 16 open ocean surface ships are being built and another 19 upgraded. Government contracts for another six ships like this will be concluded next year. Considering the current number of contracts, the total number of open ocean warships that are under construction or are being upgraded is 41.

As for aircraft, early delivery of 94 planes and helicopters is planned for the end of 2024. These include 22 Su-57 aircraft the number of which will be brought up to 76 units by 2028.

With these measures, the amount of modern hardware will make it possible to bring the level of modern arms in the Army and the Navy to 75.9 percent by late 2024. We are planning to sign long-term contracts on all major types of weapons. They will allow defence enterprises to confidently plan their operations for the next seven years, purchase the required materials and effectively manage their operational activities.

Early next year we will sign long-term contracts for additional purchase of long-range high-precision missiles, thus doubling this number. A detailed report on this issue was made at the meetings you chaired in Sochi.

Wrapping up the rearmament topic, I would like to emphasise that our Armed Forces have become one of the most advanced and technologically developed armies of the world. We have matched the parameters of the armed forces of many states in the level of modern weapons. That said, Russia stepped back from 8th to 9th place in its defence spending this year.

The re-equipping of the Army and the Navy has been taking place amid the restrictions, which created a risk that defence enterprises would not fulfil their state defence orders.

At the peak of the pandemic, 2,300,000 specialists were on self-isolation and most enterprises stopped operations. It was only the intervention of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief that made it possible to restore the production processes and prevent a reduction in defence product output.

The financial monitoring system created by the Defence Ministry allowed for the implementation of state defence order by defence enterprises amid the restrictions. The timely adjustment of tough self-isolation measures made it possible to not only maintain the schedule for fulfilling state defence order but also meet social commitments to the companies’ employees and the budget system.

As part of providing assistance to the population, the military-construction complex has set up 30 multifunctional medical centres with a total area of ​​over 200,000 square metres in 23 regions in a matter of nine months. Yesterday, the 30th centre was commissioned in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. They are outfitted with the latest equipment. This was accomplished to keep the incidence rate of coronavirus in the Armed Forces per 100,000 people 37 percent lower than nationally. To this end, the number of PCR research laboratories has been increased by 2.5 times since April and the number of tests per day increased seven-fold. This fully covered the need for testing the military and civilian personnel of the Armed Forces. The time to obtain test results has been reduced from two days in April to four hours in June.

Over 8,000 beds have been organised for inpatient treatment at military hospitals, half of which are used in the interest of civilians. Since the beginning of the pandemic, medical assistance has been provided to over 13,000 civilian patients. In addition, about 5,000 former service personnel, as well as families with many children of service personnel and families that lost their breadwinners, have received social support.

In order to diagnose the coronavirus early, the number of tomography machines has been increased eightfold, which makes it possible to conduct tests the same day without interruptions or waiting lines. Currently, the Armed Forces are conducting mass vaccination. A strict quarantine has been introduced in military schools, education organisations are operating as planned using an e-training system. Thanks to this, training has continued uninterrupted.

Telemedicine has proved its effectiveness during the pandemic. The number of remote consultations has increased fivefold. The Defence Ministry’s airlift ambulance service performed 191 flights during the year and transported 630 patients in serious and critical condition.

The 48th Central Research Institute of CBRN Troops took part in developing the Sputnik V vaccine which was tested at the Defence Ministry’s medical facilities. I would like to note that this institute is Russia’s only OPCW-certified research organisation. However, its experimentation base has remained unchanged since 1992.

Mr President, thank you for supporting our proposal to create a modern laboratory and experimental complex at the 48th Central Research Institute. This will allow us to participate in international research as well as to create promising vaccines and medications. Currently, the Government is looking into allocating additional budgetary funds for these purposes.

In the Armed Forces, like in the country in general, there is a high number of cancer cases. In 2021, in the interests of military personnel and employees of other security services, it has been proposed that we begin construction of a unified oncological centre at the Burdenko Hospital and a multipurpose medical centre in Sevastopol. We have about 150,000 officers of security, defence and law enforcement agencies and their families in this city, but unfortunately, there is no decent medical institution there.

Mr President, I would like to ask you to support the joint initiative of the security services to build these facilities.

Amid the pandemic, the Armed Forces have fully retained their high combat capability and carried out all planned activities. A significant contribution to the training of personnel was achieved with the snap inspections of combat readiness of troops, carried out continuously over seven years. This year there have been two, but larger than before. As a result, all military districts, the Northern Fleet, and all categories and branches of the Armed Forces were inspected.

Over the year, the Armed Forces carried out over 18,500 training events at various levels. The intensity of multi-service training and bilateral exercises increased by 5 and 6 percent, respectively.

Foreign countries continue to show great interest in the International Army Games. This year they took place in five countries involving over 3,300 military personnel from 32 states. The competitions were attended by over 1.2 million people. The main combat training event was the Caucasus-2020 strategic command-staff exercise. It showed the high level of training of military command and control bodies, strategic and operational levels, and the ability of troops to reliably ensure Russia's military security along the southwestern borders.

The Navy conducted a large-scale multi-fleet and multi-service exercise called Ocean Shield. This group demonstrated its ability to effectively carry out tasks to protect our national interests in the waters of three oceans and nine seas, including the Northern Sea Route. The ships and vessels of the Navy made 140 cruises to all strategically important regions of the World Ocean, as well as 122 visits and business calls to the ports of 28 foreign countries. Also, the international exercises Slavic Brotherhood, Bridge of Friendship, Selenga and Friendship were successfully carried out.

Within the CSTO, we took part in the Echelon special logistics exercise and the Indestructible Brotherhood command-staff exercises with the peacekeeping forces.

We are continuing to form a professional army. 13,000 officers who graduated from academies have been assigned to the military units. Commissioned officer slots are over 96 percent filled. The number of contracted soldiers is increasing: their number in all corps and branches of the Armed Forces almost doubles that of conscripts. The need for contracted service personnel with certain specialties is caused by regular deliveries of new weaponry and military equipment. As of now, they are six-percent short of the estimated necessary numbers. By late 2022 it may grow to 14 percent unless proper funding is provided. This issue is being considered by the Government of the Russian Federation.

Due to the pandemic, cadets were selected for enrolment in military academies by special mobile groups in the regions of the cadets’ residence. Academy applicants were gathered and selected via videoconference without interrupting official duties and active service. In total, over 12,000 cadets and over a thousand military students were enrolled.

This year, a branch of the Nakhimov Naval School welcomed its first cadets in Kaliningrad. Thus we have finished establishing the network of Nakhimov schools in all the fleets. Cadets of the Tver and North Caucasus Suvorov schools began their studies in new facilities fully fitted out with cutting-edge training equipment.

The defence research potential of the Armed Forces got a boost from service personnel of 17 research companies. They have already obtained 14 patents on inventions, and designed 84 technical innovations and 44 applied mathematical models.

(The Minister went on to address the topics of solving social problems facing service personnel and their families, including employment for their wives and kindergarten enrolment for their children, indexation of military pay, extra allowances for certain categories of service personnel, and provision of housing.)

The Defence Ministry continues to consistently pursue the development of military and social infrastructure in the Arctic. Over 360 buildings and facilities with a total area of over 413,000 sq m have been put into operation in the past two years. The installation works at the military base on Alexandra Land have been completely finished. It is the world’s only facility at 80 degrees north latitude. It comprises 334 buildings and facilities. The runway at the Nagurskoye airfield has been extended to 3.5 kilometres. The second-stage facilities of the military station in Tiksi for 300 servicemen of an air defence unit were commissioned.

We continue to respond to the environmental damage in the Arctic. Throughout the year, 2,830 metric tons of scrap metal have been collected, and cleaning works have been completed at Cape Marre-Sale, Kildin Island and the territory of the Shantar Islands National Park. In all, 26,000 metric tons of scrap metal have been collected since the beginning of this project, of which over 20,000 metric tons have been removed [from the area].

The Defence Ministry and the Russian Geographical Society have jointly conducted 12 expeditions; the most ambitious of which, The Arctic Archipelagos, allowed researchers to explore the environment in the region and on the Arctic Ocean seabed.

The Defence Ministry, together with Gazprom Neft and Rosneft, continues the construction of six integrated fuel supply facilities at military airfields. Overall, 14 integrated fuel supply facilities have been built since we started this investment project. We are carrying out a project with NOVATEK to convert boiler houses to liquefied natural gas so the number of LNG boilers will exceed 1,000 by 2025. This will allow us to cut fuel oil expenses by 15 percent.

Armed Forces logistics support units have been using 819 kilometres of the main pipeline to supply water to Simferopol and the central part of the Crimean Peninsula for six months now. Overall, we have supplied over 6 million cubic metres of water to the area. This year, we have finished the construction of an aqueduct and hydraulic engineering facilities to supply Sevastopol with 15,000 cubic metres of water daily. By March 1 next year, after the construction of a public water collection facility and engineering infrastructure are completed, the daily water supply will increase by another 50,000 cubic metres.

Since November 10, in keeping with the trilateral agreement, Russian military personnel have been successfully conducting operations in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian troops were deployed in the designated areas in a short time frame and started to carry out their tasks at 23 watch posts. So far, not a single serious incident has been recorded. Civilians have been given safe passage in their vehicles along the Lachin Corridor.

The Russian peacekeepers mediated the “all for all” swap of prisoners between Armenia and Azerbaijan. They also organised the exchange of bodies of those killed. Feeling safe, civilians started to return home and restore their houses. They are receiving support from military personnel of the Peacekeeping Operational Centre.

Since November 14, Russian peacekeepers ensured the return home for over 42,000 refugees. They are also clearing land mines in Nagorno-Karabakh. Overall, over 6,000 explosives have been rendered harmless. Two modern block-module townships for 330 people have been built in Stepanakert to accommodate the Russian peacekeepers. We will build 32 townships by April 1 next year to create comfortable living and working conditions for the peacekeeping troops.

The Russian force group continues to act as a guarantor of peace in Syria. In cooperation with the Turkish military, they are patrolling the main roads in the northeast of Syria. They are also closely cooperating in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The traffic of civilian vehicles on the M-4 road in the north of Syria has been organised with the assistance of the Russian troop contingent.

Since May 25, the Russian military police have escorted about 35,000 vehicles and over 66,000 people. The military personnel of the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties has conducted over 2,500 humanitarian actions and accompanied more than 650 UN humanitarian convoys. Military medics rendered aid to over 130,000 civilians.

Owing to the efficient performance of the Russian and Syrian inter-departmental coordination headquarters, more than 2 million Syrians have returned to the places of their pre-war residence. An international conference on the return of refugees was held in Damascus with the active involvement of the Defence Ministry. It was used to improve this process and promoted humanitarian assistance to them. More countries decided to help the Syrian government.

We are upgrading the military and social infrastructure at our bases in Syria. Shelters have been built for all combat aircraft at the Khmeimim airfield. Another nine shelters for helicopters were built this year. The reconstruction and upgrade of the barracks and housing facilities and infrastructure were carried out at the material technical support point of the Russian Navy in Tartus.

This year, international military cooperation included 96 countries. The following countries remained our priority partners in military-technical cooperation: China, India, Egypt, Algeria, Vietnam, Turkey and Myanmar. We continued strengthening our allied relations with the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO member states. We have fulfilled all your instructions on assisting six foreign states in coping with the pandemic.

The first joint meeting of defence ministers of the SCO, CIS and CSTO countries took place this year under the Russian chairmanship. This is a new authoritative negotiating platform for discussing and resolving major national security problems.

The annually held Army Forum strengthens international defence cooperation. Delegations from 92 countries attended it as guests or participants, and the number of visitors exceeded 1.4 million people. On the sidelines of the forum, participants in international military-technical cooperation signed export contracts for military products worth over $380 million and signed a number of international agreements. In addition, 41 government contracts were signed with 27 defence enterprises for over 1.16 trillion rubles.

Along with the military-political bodies, the commanders maintained high levels of psychological and political morale among the troops and their readiness to perform combat missions in any circumstances.

In the year of the 75th anniversary of Victory, the Defence Ministry has implemented major priority and cultural projects. Military parades were held in 28 cities. Traditionally, the main Naval parade was held this year. The opening and consecration of the Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces and the Road of Memory museum complex were the high point of the year. The museum maintains information on about 34 million participants in the Great Patriotic War. This unique complex has already become a centre of spiritual attraction for our country’s military and civilians. Even with the pandemic restrictions in place, it was visited by over 1 million people. We are honouring and upholding the historical memory of the Great Victory heroes. I would like to note that a federal law was adopted at our initiative, which provides for criminal liability for desecrating war graves and monuments to the defenders of the Fatherland.

The most numerous youth movement, Yunarmiya (Young Army), has been developing successfully, covering all regions of Russia and involving over 740,000 teenage members. In cooperation with the city of Moscow and the Moscow Region, a year-round educational and methodological centre for military-patriotic education of youth Avangard was created. This year, 23 more such regional centres started their work. They will be created in all Russian regions by 2023.

Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,

The Armed Forces have fulfilled all tasks set forth for 2020. Combat potential has increased by 13 percent. The level of national defence capability has been ensured as well. We have finished drafting the defence plan of the Russian Federation for 2021–2025, which you endorsed. The implementation of the signed contracts has provided for the delivery of over 250,000 pieces of weapons and munition. The implementation of state assignments on purchases has reached 99.8 percent and on repairs and upgrades 99.7 percent.

The re-equipping of the Army and scheduled repairs have allowed us to keep 95 percent of arms in operable condition. A total of 3,200 buildings and facilities have been put into service. Importantly, the military construction complex carried out large-scale infrastructure projects in four to seven months.

In 2020, the total amount of capital investment transferred to customers exceeded 275 billion rubles, which is almost double the figure for the past year. That way, the scale of construction-in-progress has been substantially reduced.

Problems and plans for resolving them are included in the 2019–2025 plan for Defence Ministry activities.

In 2021, the Defence Ministry has a number of priority tasks to fulfil.

Regarding re-equipping. The strategic missile forces must receive 13 launchers with Yars and Avangard ICBMs. Using the additional allocations for the manufacture of these systems, we must reach the level of 88.3 percent for modern strategic nuclear forces. We must complete the construction of infrastructure for Yars and Avangard systems in Kozelsk, Yasnoye, Uzhur, Novosibirsk and Yoshkar Ola. We also need to complete the Severo-Yeniseysky proving ground for summer tests of the Sarmat missile system and start state tests of the upgraded Tu-160 aircraft. The Navy will receive two Borei-A class nuclear-powered submarines, Knyaz Vladimir and Generalissimo Suvorov, equipped with Bulava ballistic missiles.

Regarding the general-purpose troops: deliver over 500 modern armoured combat vehicles to the Land Forces, the Airborne Forces and the Naval coastal defence troops; form an air defence missile brigade in the Southern Military District; deliver over 100 new and upgraded aircraft to the Aerospace Forces and the Naval aviation; complete the construction of a radar station with prefab technology in Vorkuta and have it operating in a trial mode; begin the construction of the Yakhroma radar station in Sevastopol and individual units for the over-the-horizon location of air targets in Kaliningrad and Zeya; equip the Navy with four new submarines, six surface ships and 22 boats and supply vessels.

We also plan to prepare and hold a joint strategic military exercise, Zapad 2021, with the Russian and Belarusian armed forces; hold the Army 2021 International Military and Technical Forum; open the Omsk cadet military school based on new infrastructure; commission 3,000 buildings and facilities along with the deliveries of new models of weapons and hardware, depending on the budget allocations we receive for these purposes.

Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,

In keeping with your instructions, next year we will continue to work for the progressive development of the Armed Forces and the improvement of their quality.

We will discuss the performance [of the Armed Forces] in more detail during the closed part of the board meeting.

This concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Shoigu.

In conclusion, I would like to say the following: we have just listened to the report by the Minister. The Defence Ministry has to address quite a few tasks and it has plenty of areas of work, all of which are important – there is nothing that is not of major importance. Take the Ministry’s involvement in the efforts to combat the pandemic. I began with this and Mr Shoigu spoke about it. The medical staff was very effective, indeed; we feel proud of them. The organisation is good, the procedures are good, the protocols are correct and sometimes they are even more effective than those used by civilians. They did everything on schedule and the quality was good. There was neither malfunction in the defence industry, nor an outbreak of the disease in the Armed Forces, and they have also achieved the objectives in terms of military training and manufacturing of the necessary hardware by defence enterprises. The same goes for many other areas of your work.

There are many areas but it is clear that the main goal for everyone in this meeting is to ensure our national defence capability. And it is very important at this point, as I said in my opening remarks, to remember that the speed of scientific and technical change is extremely high. It is very important not to miss anything and to closely follow any opportunities for the further development. This is an extremely important thing to remember. We must by no means rest on our laurels. Yes, we say it and I proudly repeat, as I have done many times: we have developed weapons that the world does not possess, primarily, of course, hypersonic arms. We are now working on plans how to move the Avangard’s Stiletto-based combat manoeuvrable unit to advanced missile systems that are currently being developed. We also have many other plans and not only for the nuclear triad but also for conventional arms.

But we know and we must realise that the world’s leading armies are spending enormous resources that do not compare with ours on ensuring their supremacy. There is no option for giving the edge on anything to them. I want everyone to understand this.

Do you know this popular wisdom? What is the worst thing in the world? What must never be allowed? This is to have to catch up or to ask anyone for favours. If we do not have to catch up with anyone, we will not have to ask for favours.

I would like you to focus on this work, not routine work although everyone has a great deal of routine in all areas, including the Armed Forces. Routine must not blur our vision. Our successes in the past few years must not allow us to relax our progress in any way.

I would like to thank you for your service. The past year has been difficult and tough. The Armed Forces and the entire military component of the state, everything related to it, have shown high mobilisation readiness and not simply viability but an opportunity to develop in any circumstances. You have made it. I hope you will do the same positive work next year as well.

Thank you very much. I wish you all the best. 

December 21, 2020, Moscow