President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We have a great deal of issues to discuss today. They are important. First of all, I would like to say that the plant where we are holding this meeting has made a very good, serious impression on me. Indeed, this is a new step and a major achievement in strengthening our defence industry.
It is a new enterprise. Everything is well thought out and superbly organised, and the people here are wonderful – the average age is 35, they are well prepared, and there is constant training going on, because an effective training system is in place.
As for the equipment that the plant will manufacture, we need it to ensure the country’s defence capability, because these are missile defence systems and radar stations – that is, systems that defend the country. That is first.
Second. Before we start discussing the issues on our agenda, I would like to revisit a well-known issue – the liberation of the Syrian city of Palmyra by the Syrian Army with our most active support and participation.
First of all, I would like to congratulate our service members for making a serious contribution to the fight against terrorism. Second, there is a purely humanitarian issue – the mine clearing operations. In a telephone conversation with the Director-General of UNESCO and then with the President of Syria, we agreed that Russia will provide assistance in clearing Palmyra, approach routes to Palmyra, and, what is especially important, the historical sites, of mines.
I ask the Defence Minister – we have already discussed this, Mr Shoigu, and I know that you have already started preparations – after our meeting today, to report on what is planned for the near future and how you intend to organise the work to clear Palmyra of mines.
Now the main question. We are holding the first meeting of the Commission for Military Technology Cooperation with Foreign States in 2016, and to begin, a couple of words about last year’s results.
I would like to note that Russia has retained its second place position on the list of the world’s leading arms and military equipment suppliers to global markets. What is more, we are well ahead of countries that come behind us. Russian military exports in 2015 turned out to be even bigger than we planned, amounting to $14.5 billion.
I want to note that against the backdrop of the difficult international situation and economic challenges, domestic arms manufacturers indeed are maintaining high standards. Quality products manufactured at defence industry enterprises are highly competitive on international markets. The capabilities of our arms and military equipment were convincingly demonstrated in practice, in a combat situation, in the fight against the terrorist threat.
The portfolio of export orders is growing steadily. Last year, new contracts worth over $26 billion were signed. We have exceeded the previous maximum level that we achieved in 2013. Thus, for the first time since 1992, the volume of the export portfolio of arms and military equipment has reached $56 billion.
Needless to say, ties with our traditional partners play a major role here. These are the CIS and CSTO countries, as well as India, Iraq, Egypt, Vietnam, China, Algeria and several other states. At the same time, we are moving into new arms markets in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East. This work must continue.
Last year, we signed special intergovernmental military technology cooperation agreements with five states. Russian military products were supplied to 58 countries, while the total number of our partners in this sphere exceeds 100.
At the same time, military technology cooperation with European countries has almost come to an end. That did not happen on our initiative. We hope that this is a temporary phenomenon. We are confident that it is in the interest of all countries on the European continent to restore open, productive interaction in all areas, including military technology cooperation.
Needless to say, this will enhance trust. Arms exhibitions both in and outside Russia should become an important platform for this dialogue. In 2015, domestic arms manufacturers took part in more than 20 such events.
Last June, the Army-2015 International Military Technology Forum took place in Kubinka, Moscow Region. The event was for the first time held under the auspices of the Russian Defence Ministry, and it was attended by delegations from 70 states.
We must continue developing the military technology cooperation system in a comprehensive manner, among other things, improving its regulatory and legal framework and removing administrative barriers for domestic defence enterprises.
Last year, the procedure for sending military equipment to exhibitions abroad was simplified, as was the procedure for training foreign military and military technology personnel. This year, the managing companies of what are known as integrated defence industry structures will be able to apply for permission to conduct independent foreign trade. A corresponding law will come into effect on July 1.
We hope that such innovations will make it possible to increase exports of Russian high-tech products and expand our contacts with foreign states.
Let’s discuss in depth these and other issues during our meeting today.