The first meeting centred on the Aerospace Forces and the Navy.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in a separate report updated the meeting participants on the progress of COVID-19 vaccination in the Armed Forces.
The meeting was also attended by Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and First Deputy Defence Minister Valery Gerasimov, Deputy Defence Minister Alexei Krivoruchko, Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces Sergei Surovikin, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Nikolai Yevmenov, Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces Sergei Karakayev, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff and Deputy Chief of the General Staff Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff and Deputy Chief of the General Staff Igor Kostyukov, First Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff Viktor Poznikhir, and Head of the Interbranch Research Directorate of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff Yevgeny Shmyrin.
Also invited to attend were Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, First Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Defence Industry Commission Andrei Yelchaninov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Oleg Ryazantsev, General Director of Rostec State Corporation Sergei Chemezov, General Director of Tactical Missiles Corporation Boris Obnosov and General Designer of Almaz-Antey Aerospace Defence Concern Pavel Sozinov.
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Beginning of the meeting with the leadership of the Defence Ministry and defence companies
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We are starting another series of meetings dedicated to technological development and Armed Forces equipment.
As always, the participants include leaders from the Defence Ministry and top defence companies. As we have stated on many occasions, this format makes it possible to comprehensively analyse on a regular basis the state of Russia's defence capability and, if needed, to promptly adjust and update plans for modernising the army and the navy, and to improve the defence companies’ performance.
Today, we will primarily consider a range of topics related to strengthening the Aerospace Forces, one of the most powerful, high-tech, and maneuverable branches of the modern Russian military. Russia’s reliable protection from an aerospace attack and maintaining strategic parity directly depend on their combat readiness and technical equipment.
We are all well aware that some of our foreign colleagues have not abandoned their attempts to undermine this parity, including by deploying elements of their global missile defence systems in the immediate vicinity of our borders. We cannot fail to notice these threats to Russia's security and we will respond appropriately and adequately to the situation.
In this regard, I would like to note that in recent years, the Russian Armed Forces’ aerospace defence capabilities have noticeably increased. Our missile attack warning system is functioning smoothly and effectively. Both of its components, the constellation of satellites in orbit and ground-based radar systems – guarantee the detection of potential ballistic missile launches. The system will determine their parameters in a timely manner and notify the military command and control centres.
Under the state armament programme, over the past four years, 25 S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and over 70 modern fighter jets have been produced, and more than 20 S-300 systems and 90 aircraft have been modernised. As a result, the country’s critical military and industrial infrastructure is protected even more effectively now.
We need to further improve aerospace defence. This need has been prompted by the leading countries’ developing innovative strike weapons with advanced speed parameters. The general military-political situation also requires further effort, prompted partly by the increasing numbers of NATO flights close to Russia, and NATO ships with guided missiles appearing in the Baltic and Black Seas. Just recently, as you know, a US ship entered the Black Sea – it could be seen through binoculars or through the sight of our defence systems. US plans to deploy medium-range missiles in Europe are also well known, and that also poses a great danger and threat to us.
Therefore, in accordance with the earlier adopted decisions, our troops must be supplied, in the next few years, with an additional more than 200 aircraft and 26 S-350 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as the first production prototype or first production models of the latest S-500 antiaircraft missile system. Generally, the current rates of reequipping the air and missile defence forces will make it possible to bring the level of modern hardware to at least 80 percent by 2025–2027.
In the process, special attention must be paid to the development of the centralised air and space defence control system, the integration of the sub-systems of intelligence and warning of air or space attack into a single information space, and the deployment of advanced space systems. The updated air and space defence system must detect hypersonic and ballistic targets of all types at long distances and then be able to destroy them along the entire trajectory of their flight.
In addition, the military-industrial complex must expedite the development rates of modern weapons for air and space defence, and quickly begin full-scale production using domestic hardware and components. Today, I would like to hear detailed reports on progress in these areas, on existing problems, and proposals on what we should adjust in the near future to guarantee the failsafe implementation of all our plans.
One more extremely important goal is to provide the Russian Navy with modern equipment and weapons.
In the past four years, the Navy has received 49 new warships and combat craft, nine coastal missile systems and ten aircraft. The programme to upgrade the fleet is making steady headway. In general, by 2027, the number of modern weapons should exceed 70 percent.
The formation of shipborne strike groups operating in the near marine area is close to completion. The decisions made during the Sochi consultations and other meetings have made it possible to start increasing the construction of warships for the off-shore maritime and ocean zones. Over 30 of these warships are being built or modernised now. This includes a new class of ship – universal landing ships.
The upgrading of the fleet is of crucial, strategic, national importance to us. This is why we are regularly taking part in the keel-laying ceremony of new ships – both surface ships and submarines. And we will continue to do so.
I would like to add that Navy warships and vessels continuously take part in long distant patrols. They carry out operational and training missions and display the flag in the ocean and sea zones of importance to Russia. I would like to recall that in the 2000s, in the early 2000s, such patrols were episodic if not sporadic.
Let me repeat, we need to continue the course of technically reequipping the fleet. I would like to draw your attention to several important points.
First, we need to be more active in introducing advanced technology, equipment and materials; actually, this is obvious, but I will still make the point. This will improve the operational specifications of ships and submarines and create an opportunity to use new types of weapons.
The second point. Considering the buildup of foreign navies with modern nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carrying and strike ships, and unmanned ships, we must expedite the development of our naval aviation, primarily by supplying the Navy with advanced aircraft and air weapons and conducting a large-scale modernization of existing systems. I would like to hear today what is being done to resolve this task.
Before we move to the issues on our agenda, I would like to hear a separate – brief, but separate – report on the vaccination of military personnel in the Armed Forces. I spoke recently with the Defence Minister and asked him to prepare this report. It is brief but I want to hear it today anyway.
Go ahead, please.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Thank you.
Mr President, in line with your instructions, we started planned vaccination at priority rates in July of last year. Today, 95 percent of military personnel, 70 percent of civilian workers and relatives of service members have been vaccinated. This has allowed us to have fairly high figures in reducing the coronavirus infection and fatality rates.
On July 1, we began our planned revaccination programme. As of today, about 25–27 percent of military personnel have been revaccinated. Again, this is proceeding according to plan.
To keep the pandemic under control, we increased the number of laboratories six times in 2020. Because of this, since last year, we have reduced the time for obtaining test results to two hours; we can receive test results in two hours in any place in the country.
We have also put telemedicine on an around-the-clock schedule. Of course, all moderate to severe patients in our hospitals are monitored by doctors and receive consultations from leading specialists around the clock.
As a result, today the incidence rate among Armed Forces personnel is half the national average. In 2021, the incidence rate is 44.5 percent lower than in 2020.
As compared to 2020, we have reduced the demand for beds three-fold, so, this year we need three times fewer beds. Naturally, we are helping 27 regions in the Russian Federation in 136 of our hospitals. We are helping them with oxygen supplies (as you instructed last year and repeatedly said this year). We are providing various assistance, including hospitalization and the use of our laboratories.
Compared to last year, vaccination has cut the COVID-19 mortality rate in half in the Armed Forces alone. It is 45 percent below the national average per 10,000 people. We have both military and civilian personnel and their relatives.
We continue countering the coronavirus under our plan. Like last year, per your instructions, we are ready to deploy a hospital in any part of the country within three hours, minus, of course, travel time.
We have nine hospitals at our disposal, complete with all the required equipment and personnel. Today, we are using our medical facilities from this number in Khakassia, in Moscow and Tula regions, in Abkhazia and a number of other regions in Russia where our medical personnel provide treatment, without equipment. We are ready to instantly fulfil your instructions.
Vladimir Putin: I told the Prime Minister about this today, and his deputy, Tatyana Golikova, and the Health Minister. I have just spoken to all of them. We have a very difficult situation in Russia today, more than 40,000 infected [a day], this has never happened before.
We definitely need to continue this effort, which is certainly extremely important for all Russians, and even more so for the Armed Forces – two or three times as important – because we absolutely need all of our military members in the service and in good health. The combat readiness of the Armed Forces depends on this.
Therefore, I ask you to continue this work, and to continue to support civil medicine. If necessary, perhaps, you might want to use your construction capacity, because there is a need to continue building prefabricated medical facilities.
I would also like to address my colleagues from industry. Perhaps, this concerns the Armed Forces to a lesser extent – I will explain in a minute – and the civilian sector, to a greater extent. Here is what I mean. We know that senior citizens have an increased risk of severe illness – this is an obvious fact today, and the mortality rate among that age group is several times higher than the national average, for the entire population.
What I am saying, you have employees of different generations working at your enterprises, including the older generation – please keep this under review, including the observance of all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. This certainly applies to the entire country, but now I am addressing those who are present at this meeting.
On vaccination – vaccines can really protect from severe illness and death. True, new drugs are being developed, and I am sure we will be able to use them soon, I also spoke with my colleagues about this today, with those working on this; but still, the most universal and best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. And for the army – in fact, this concerns everyone, including the army – timely revaccination is necessary.
I occasionally speak with my colleagues in countries where more than 60 percent of the population has been vaccinated, and they still cannot avoid a new outbreak. I asked them personally, what happened. They failed to start revaccinating on time, missed the moment – we must bear this in mind, too.
Even when people get vaccinated, as the minister just said, we need to monitor what happens after that and make appropriate decisions and act on time.
Let us get started.