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Plenary meeting of Russian National Gunsmith Forum

September 19, 2019, Izhevsk

On Gunsmith Day, Vladimir Putin attended a plenary session of the National Gunsmith Forum in Izhevsk.

The Russian National Gunsmith Forum is a key event in celebrating Gunsmith Day in Izhevsk, the capital of the Republic of Udmurtia. This year, the forum is timed to coincide with the 100th birth anniversary of legendary gun maker Mikhail Kalashnikov. Top managers from defence industry companies, industry specialists, product engineers, representatives of state agencies and the business community were invited to take part in the forum. Discussions will focus on production diversification and ways of boosting the competitiveness of civilian and dual-purpose goods.

Before attending the Gunsmith Forum, the President visited the Central Square in Izhevsk, which was rebuilt and upgraded for this professional day. A light and music dry fountain was installed and equipped with laser video projectors for using the water screen as a multi-format platform.

* * *

Speech at the plenary session of the 2nd National Gunsmith Forum of Russia

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

It is a pleasure to welcome the participants and guests of the 2nd National Gunsmith Forum of Russia in Izhevsk, one of the historical, distinguished centres of the national defence industry.

Naturally, first of all I would like to congratulate all those present and all defence industry workers on their professional day. Happy Gunsmith Day to you.

Today, the warmest congratulations and words of gratitude are addressed to the industry’s veterans, those who have established its glorious traditions and developed arms and equipment that have come to symbolise the power of our Army, its victories and its noble and lofty mission – to defend Russia.

Mikhail Kalashnikov, whose centenary is observed this year, certainly occupies a special place in the world of outstanding gun makers, of which we are proud.

We will always revere the memory of this legendary designer, folk craftsman, and genuine patriot of the Fatherland. I am convinced that the weapons he designed will reliably serve Russia our soldiers and officers for many decades to come, while the brilliant national school of small arms in which he invested all his energy and his entire life will maintain a leading position in the world and cultivate new young talent.

The current generation of gun makers befittingly continues the traditions established by Mikhail Kalashnikov, his colleagues and associates. Today, our defence industry has over 1,300 plants that employ more than 2 million highly qualified specialists – designers, engineers, technicians and workers.

They professionally resolve the most complex and responsible tasks and design advanced and largely unique equipment prototypes. As they perfect new arms systems at shooting ranges and testing stands, they proceed with precision and courage just like in combat, like real Russian soldiers. They often take risks and sometimes sacrifice their lives. They do not spare themselves while reliably defending our country.

Colleagues, during your meetings, roundtable and panel discussions over these two days, you are focusing on key issues in the development of the defence industry. It is important that your proposals, along with state policy, strategic objectives and steps taken, work toward a single goal – the qualitative development of our defence industry, the strengthening of its technological, personnel, and production potential. Without exaggeration, the effective development of the defence industry is a powerful factor in the progress of the entire national economy.

I must note that in 2018, the state defence order for the supply of new types of weapons and equipment was 98.2 percent completed, and preliminary results of this year confirm that the plan to re-equip the Army and Navy is going on as planned.

So far, 94 percent of the allocated funding has been transferred – this is more than last year, which means that defence enterprises have begun working on their contracts in a timely manner. As of mid-September, more than 2,300 units of new and upgraded weapons and equipment were delivered to the troops – almost 50 percent of the target level, with the pace of supplying new equipment increased by 6.7 percent. This is a good level.

We need to keep going and consolidate this level of promptness, this composure and high performance discipline. This fully applies to the interaction between the Ministry of Defence and defence industry companies, which is being built as a true partnership in the interests of a common cause.

We need to continue to fully and promptly execute our plans under the state armament programme, finalise and begin the production of promising weapons and equipment, and vigorously expand military technical cooperation.

As for building up our export potential, this task also fully applies to civilian products. Reasonable and informed diversification is what should increase the financial stability of the military enterprises and open up opportunities for creating new highly qualified jobs.

In 2018, the share of civilian output in the industry totaled nearly 21 percent. Most importantly, there are more examples of such competitive products enjoying steady demand. Here, in Izhevsk, for example, the Kalashnikov group of companies produces medical equipment, civilian boats, electric automobiles and electric motorcycles. The company has developed an Arctic drone and Nanook equipment, which is indispensable in harsh Arctic conditions. Like Izhevsk, all defence industry companies should occupy new niches and more boldly enter the domestic and international markets.

Our national projects and other ambitious state programs are opening up vast opportunities for work. I am saying this, because billions of rubles will be allocated to the development of the digital economy and infrastructure, the introduction of the latest information technology, modernising healthcare, education, urban and municipal services, overcoming environmental challenges and creating a modern waste recycling industry. Defence industry enterprises should take up the position they deserve and take advantage of the financial opportunities provided by the state.

Importantly, the state will continue to support diversification in the defence industry, encourage the introduction of subsidised financial tools, and incentivise companies partially owned by the state to buy domestically produced alternatives to foreign-made products. You, colleagues, should also meet today’s stringent requirements, price and quality standards, and the growing demands of the domestic and international market, our economy, business and our citizens.

In short, defence industry diversification should be systematic and consistent. This is the only way to achieve the purported goal of increasing the share of civilian products to 30 percent of the defence industry’s total output by 2025, and to 50 percent by 2030. This is an ambitious goal and a tall order. But this ambitious goal is not just written on a piece of paper, it is dictated by the times and, I am sure, it will certainly be achieved through our common efforts.

In closing, once again, I congratulate industry workers, all of you and your colleagues on this day. I thank you for your responsible and honest work and, of course, I wish you new and great success in the interests of Russia.

Thank you.

September 19, 2019, Izhevsk