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Meeting on socioeconomic development of Crimea and Sevastopol

March 17, 2022, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

The President conducted a meeting on the socioeconomic development of Crimea and Sevastopol, via videoconference.

The meeting was attended by Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Fayzullin, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov, Governor of the Federal City of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev and Chair of Promsvyazbank Petr Fradkov.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Hello.

We are meeting on the eve of the Day of Crimea’s Reunification with Russia.

We all remember that at that time, in the difficult weeks of February-March 2014, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol displayed courage and patriotism and formed a wall against the neo-Nazis and radicals, those who staged a coup d’etat in Kiev. People in Crimea and Sevastopol did not falter. They united and won, making their free conscientious choice – to be together with Russia.

The years since then have convincingly proved how correct and timely this choice was. It is enough to look at what is happening in Donbass today and everything becomes immediately clear.

However, today I suggest discussing the work on strengthening the socioeconomic potential of Crimea and Sevastopol and planning the tasks on which we should focus in the near future and in the long term.

I would like to note that a special programme on the socioeconomic development of the peninsula and a number of other undertakings have been consistently carried out since 2015. A total of 1,375 billion rubles have been set aside for the implementation of this programme over 11 years, until 2025. More than a thousand facilities must be built with these funds. As of today, almost half of them are ready and are already in operation for the benefit of the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Our priority was to modernise and develop the transport infrastructure. A modern airport, Simferopol, has been built, the Crimea Bridge is open to motor and rail traffic, and construction work is at its final stage on Tavrida, the newest motorway.

The electric power supply to the region has become more reliable and stable, this primarily owing to the commissioning of new generating capacities, the creation of a power bridge, and the replacement of the outmoded regional electric power networks. This has made it possible to eliminate such a serious problem as protracted power outages in residential districts and at production facilities.

Step by step, we are solving the problem of providing the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol with clean, I repeat, clean, high-quality water. Immediately after 2014, we started drilling artesian wells and transferring water from reservoirs in the peninsula’s highlands to Simferopol and Kerch. Part of the water supply networks has been overhauled, which made it possible to reduce losses in the housing and utilities sector. This was a big problem, everyone is well aware, because nothing in this sense had been done there for decades. Additional water intake facilities have been built. In all the big cities of Crimea, the existing purification stations are being upgraded and new ones are being built. This is also a huge problem that will require a systemic solution and, regrettably, certain time and additional investment.

At the same time, we will have to do a lot more to expand the transport, energy and other infrastructures. In this connection, I suggest that we extend the Socioeconomic Development of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol state programme until 2027. Its deadline was 2025, but now we need to extend it until 2027 and possibly further on until 2030, envisaging the required co-funding from the federal budget.

In this context, I would like to emphasise that the work on all infrastructure projects – where possible – should, of course, be accelerated.

Thus, it is necessary to promptly finish the construction of the final, eighth stage of the Tavrida motorway. I have used this road, and it is amazing. The last, eighth stage is more than halfway done; it is an important, key part of the road. When it opens, new convenient and modernised access roads to Sevastopol will appear. Please report today on available reserves to speed up this crucial project.

Naturally, it is important to continue the programme to create a comfortable living environment in Crimea and Sevastopol. The total volume of funding this year and for the next years must not be reduced.

I am referring to the improvement of courtyards, squares, parks and beaches. You know how this work is going on across Russia; these are very popular measures. And, of course, they are as important for Crimea and Sevastopol as they are for all of Russia. When doing this work, it is necessary to use the best Russian and foreign projects and practices, adopt new architectural solutions, and consider the residents’ proposals.

It is also necessary to step up major repair and maintenance work on regional and local roads. Mr Khusnullin reported today that overall, this work is underway in Crimea, and the allocated necessary resources – that is, there are even more resources needed – but the allocated resources are being used much more efficiently than in the previous years. A modern, convenient road network provides new opportunities for expanding economic ties, developing tourism, and improving transport logistics.

Other infrastructure tasks require urgent attention, including the modernisation of housing and utility facilities and structures, such as the reconstruction of dilapidated and obsolete water and sewage treatment networks. There is much work ahead, and the peninsula’s environmental wellbeing directly depends on it.

Modern infrastructure is the key to the development of tourism, the agro-industrial sector, and other traditional and new economic sectors on the peninsula. It is necessary to make the most of these opportunities and to support business initiatives.

Please report back today on action plans to stimulate additional investment, to strengthen the position of small and medium-sized businesses, and to create high-tech jobs.

I would like to note that indeed, Western sanctions on the banking sector and on a number of goods, and so forth, do have an impact on the economic development of the peninsula. A new package of sanctions followed the start of the military operation in Ukraine.

I said at the meeting on socioeconomic support for the regions yesterday that the restrictions imposed against Russia certainly create many problems. But, along with creating problems, they also open up new opportunities for us.

In particular, major Russian companies now have the best conditions in Crimea. Frankly speaking, they used to be afraid of some kind of sanctions, but now they have nothing to fear. They can safely develop business in the region, including banks by the way, they can start up their activities there, finding and developing new market niches. This applies to the Crimean Peninsula and specifically to the city of Sevastopol.

We will certainly support such business activity, including through the deployment of infrastructure for banking and financial services.

In this regard, one of our leading banking institutions fully owned by the state, Promsvyazbank, which actually has a presence in Crimea already, should become active in Crimea as quickly and as widely as possible. It should introduce promising banking products, lend to agricultural construction, tourism and other key industries for the region, open departments and branches, and develop its retail network there. This will indeed become a serious incentive for increasing business activity in Crimea, and will promote cooperation with partners from other regions of the Russian Federation.

Let us discuss all these matters and hear the reports.

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March 17, 2022, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region