Secretary of the United Russia Party’s General Council Andrei Turchak and President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev presented the results of reviewing applications for the City of Labour Valour title.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reported on the progress in implementing the federal target programme, Perpetuating the memory of those who died defending the Fatherland, that was adopted in 2019. Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov spoke about the work dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of war memorials on the territory of foreign states.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
I am delighted to welcome you to a regular meeting of the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee.
I would like to remind you that the committee, which comprises members of the authorities and civil society, was established back in 2000 to jointly address really vital issues, namely to support veterans, promote patriotism among young people and perpetuate the memory of our people’s combat glory and labour exploits during the Great Patriotic War.
We celebrated Victory Day only recently, on May 9, but we always say that we must not forget about these issues and continue to help our veterans after May 9 as well. We will mark one more important date soon, June 22, the horrible day when the Nazis treacherously invaded out homeland.
This year we will mark 80 years since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. It claimed millions of lives, and nearly all our families remember their losses and their heroes to this day. This personal connection is what defines our people’s sincere commemoration of the war and war veterans in Russia.
It is only logical that the list of amendments to our renewed Constitution, which were wholeheartedly supported our nation, includes a provision on commemorating defenders of the Fatherland and preserving the historical truth.
As you are well aware, we have always paid special attention to these issues.
Regrettably, the ranks of the great generation of victors are thinning out. But this is only increasing our responsibility for preserving their legacy, especially now that we are witnessing increasingly frequent attempts to slander and distort history and to revise the role played by the Red Army in the routing of Nazism and the liberation of European nations from the Nazi plague.
We understand the reasons for this, and attempts to hamper the development of this country, regardless of its name, be it the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union or Russia, were made in different times and historical epochs and under different political systems. These approaches and principles remain the same. There is one principle or rather, one reason for containing Russia: the stronger and more independent Russia becomes, the more consistently it defends its national interests, the greater the striving of foreign forces to weaken it, to discredit the values uniting our society and sometimes to slander and distort what people hold dear, the things that are instilled in the younger generations of Russians and which help them acquire a strong character and their own opinions.
This is why all kinds of Russophobic individuals and unscrupulous politicians are trying to attack Russian history, to promote the ideas of revising the results of World War II and to exonerate Nazi criminals.
We cannot but respond to these actions in a suitable manner. As I have repeatedly said, we will rely on facts and do everything possible to ensure the continuity of historical memory in Russian society, so that decades and centuries from now, future generations will cherish the truth about the war and display a sacred and grateful attitude towards its heroes, as well as to their ancestors.
I would like to stress that, although large-scale and mass celebrations are essential, we have to prioritise systemic work here.
We have to continue to declassify new archive records and to allow researchers to use them. We must provide people with new opportunities for learning about the destinies of their relatives, as well as their combat and frontline experiences. We must expand such projects as No Statute of Limitations, which makes a substantial contribution to exposing the vile deeds of Nazi criminals against this country’s civilians and which implements important educational programmes. They must be presented more broadly at Russian schools and universities.
On the whole, it is of paramount importance that we ensure well-coordinated actions, methods and positions of all state agencies and public organisations linked with studying and preserving the history of the Great Patriotic War and also dealing with education and teaching patriotic values.
We must not act separately while addressing these issues, where efficiency and success depend solely on joint work and concerted efforts.
As an example, I would like to mention the Federal Targeted Programme Perpetuating the Memory of the Fallen Defenders of the Motherland. The programme was drafted in 2019 in close collaboration with representatives of civil society, including historians and amateur archaeologists, and is dedicated to matters of tremendous moral and human significance. I am talking about work to tend to common graves and memorials honouring Soviet officers and soldiers killed during the Great Patriotic War.
The Defence Ministry currently has records of 43,866 military burials dating to that period. More than 12,000 of them, where more than 4.15 million soldiers rest in peace, are located on the territory of 56 foreign countries. This is almost as many as the number of soldiers buried here in Russia.
These war graves are a mournful and tangible memory of the Red Army’s liberating mission. Unfortunately, some of those countries are trying to barbarically erase this memory, to desecrate the graves and the memory of the fallen fighters, to defile and destroy memorials.
They do not always succeed, not every time. Local members of the public often stand up to defend the memorials. However, many years of aggressive anti-Russian propaganda and dissemination of blatant lies in the countries where this happens have left their mark. Most often, this virus of forgetfulness is affecting young people. Regrettably, young people are brainwashed in our country, too, so that they forget about the heroism of their own ancestors, their family members, of people close to them. Moreover, they even start worshipping those who killed their own grandfathers and great-grandfathers.
No matter what, we must not allow this situation develop further. Once again, this requires systematic and meticulous work on our part where a great deal depends on Russian diplomatic missions abroad. Diplomats should be constantly monitoring the state of Soviet memorials and protecting them by taking a principled, firm and consistent approach based on the power of international law. Public initiatives aimed at preserving historical memory also need extensive support, including the initiatives by foreign associates of the Russian Search Movement and international coordinators of the Immortal Regiment. This is what our embassies already do in several countries – for example, in Serbia, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Bulgaria and some others.
We will discuss the preservation of Soviet war memorials and monuments in further detail today as it is one of the issues on this meeting’s agenda.
I suggest we start by talking about perpetuating the exploits of home front workers during the war. We will review recent proposals on conferring the title of the City of Labour Valour.
The title was established ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory and has been awarded to 20 cities whose industrial facilities made the heftiest contribution to frontline supply, industrial production and civilian supply. These industrial facilities were awarded state prizes.
This concludes my opening remarks, and I would now like to give the floor to Mr Turchak.
Please, Mr Turchak.
Secretary of the United Russia Party’s General Council Andrei Turchak: Thank you very much.
A year ago, you made a decision to confer the title of City of Labour Valour on 20 cities. Indeed, your decision had tremendous significance for the people and made it possible to specially commend the feat of home front workers during the years of the Great Patriotic War.
From the very first days, United Russia took part in implementing your initiative. We organised signature collection campaigns in favour of prospective nominees. We helped draw up documents, processed appeals from employees of industrial enterprises, local residents’ pressure groups, public and veteran organisations. In all, we collected over eight million signatures last year.
In most cities that received the honourary title we teamed up with residents and the Russian Military Historical Society to choose sites for the commemorative steles that are currently being installed in these cities.
While preparing applications from cities vying for the title, we accomplished a lot towards the recovery of historical data. We leafed through thousands of archive, library, corporate and university records. This initiative raised public awareness of the history of these cities, war-time history and feats of home front workers.
This year, United Russia is continuing to implement the project, and we have conducted a large-scale vote to select 11 leaders from among new nominees for the honourary title of City of Labour Valour. They are Krasnoyarsk, Severodvinsk, Penza, Kirov, Kolomna, Barnaul, Magadan, Tyumen, Rybinsk, Kamensk-Uralsky and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. All these cities deserve the title. This is confirmed by the tremendous support of their residents and by expert findings of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Mr President, we would like to once again ask you to support a proposal on conferring the honourary title on the above-mentioned cities in connection with the 76th anniversary of the Great Victory.
At the same time, other cities in our country are claiming the City of Labour Valour title as well. United Russia is providing extensive support in collecting residents’ signatures. Mr President, last year, under your decision, the number of cities that received this honorary title increased from 11 to 20. This year, people hope there will be at least as many cities as before.
In this regard, we would like you to consider the possibility of conferring this high title on several more cities this September.
For its part, United Russia stands ready to do all the necessary work during the summer to make sure this initiative is implemented. We will also hold a vote and identify more cities that can claim this high honorary title.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you very much.
I am aware that this matter is being worked through with public organisations and with local people in the regions. Therefore, we will continue to keep doing what we are doing.
Mr Sergeyev, Russian Academy of Sciences, please go ahead.
President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev: Mr President, colleagues,
Our people’s labour accomplishments are some of the most important chapters in our historical memory of the Great Patriotic War, which can be seen in the enormous amount of work that is being carried out in the regions.
During the time that elapsed since the first City of Labour Valour honorary titles were awarded last year, interesting archival documents have become available in the scientific and public space, and new information resources have been created about the home front’s contribution to the Great Victory.
The information provided by Mr Turchak about voting to confer honorary titles on these cities clearly shows the importance of this matter for our people. Most of the cities that he named were also highlighted by the Russian Academy of Sciences in the expert analysis that it carried out on the basis of archival materials.
The choice was difficult, but the fact that we named the same cities that are on Mr Turchak’s list makes us confident that we made the right choices, which we will now submit for your consideration.
In 2021, the Russian Academy of Sciences received 41 applications to be awarded the honorary title of City of Labour Valour. Thirty cities received positive reviews. Naturally, we proceeded from the provisions of the law as the basis for awarding this honorary title. First, what matters is the number of awards and banners of labour glory industrial enterprises received in a city during the Great Patriotic War and the number of employees with government awards.
In the Year of Science and Technology, it is important to consider the contribution of scientists and designers in the cities that applied for the title. They upgraded the technology that accelerated the production of combat hardware, developed new weapons and created various medical innovations.
Twelve of the applicants in 2021 have been chosen for review. Three of them – Barnaul, Kirov and Krasnoyarsk – are in the top three for objective reasons. These cities are multi-profile arms producers. Industrial facilities in Barnaul and Kirov have five orders each. During the war, Barnaul was the leading cartridge manufacturer. The factories there produced every second cartridge and a diesel engine for every fifth T-34 tank.
Kirov was the center for the production of mortars, mines, air bombs (5 million) and grenades. In addition, its factories provided footwear for basically half of the Red Army. They made over 9 million pairs of boots from Kirov-made tarpaulin, a unique composite material.
Industrial facilities in Krasnoyarsk earned four orders. In addition to producing air bombs, sea mines and air defence guns, workers in the city built 40 long-distance locomotives in the Sergo Ordzhonikidze series and five armoured trains. It is very important that about 1,500 employees of Krasnoyarsk received orders and medals during the war. This is one of the highest figures among all submissions.
Penza also made a tangible contribution to victory. Its workers produced a detonator for every sixth mine, bomb, or artillery shell. During the Great Patriotic War, industrial enterprises
there received orders three times.
The cities whose enterprises were the only manufacturers of a particular product, which was then used for other branches of the armed forces, deserve special attention.
Kamensk-Uralsky is one such city. In 1941–1942, it became the only producer of aluminium, magnesium and related alloys in our country. Without its products, not a single airplane and not a single T-34 tank engine could have been built. An innovative process for the production of alumina, which was developed by this enterprise, was given the Stalin Prize in 1942, and this city’s enterprises were awarded three orders.
Kolomna, Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Rybinsk made a significant contribution to Victory, and each of these cities has two orders. They were leaders in the production of one to two types of weapons. Kolomna is known for the production of metallurgical equipment for resuming the work of enterprises and the serial production of diesel submarine engines. Without its products, organising production at destroyed or evacuated facilities would have been impossible.
Komsomolsk-on-Amur was the centre for not only shipbuilding, but also the production of Il-4 bombers, with 50 percent of these bombers rolling out of Aircraft Plant No. 126 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Also, during the war years, this city was a major oil refining centre.
Every tenth mortar was made in Rybinsk. During the war, the city retained its status as the leader in shipbuilding (238 boats and 17 long-range torpedo boats).
Cheboksary and Magadan are two more cities that we want to bring to your attention. Each one has one order. As we are well aware, Cheboksary is the manufacturing centre for electrical relays, contactors and magnetic stations.
Magadan is a leading gold mining centre. More than 50 percent of all gold in the Soviet Union in 1941–1943 was produced here. During the war, Soviet geologists from Dalstroy discovered 150 new deposits and opened 17 new mines.
Tyumen and Severodvinsk have a special place among the candidate cities. They were not decorated with any orders, but their enterprises were awarded the Red Banners of the State Defence Committee for the labour heroism of their residents and their contribution to Victory.
Tyumen is the cradle of Siberian shipbuilding and the only manufacturer of torpedo boats. In addition to being the centre for icebreaker shipbuilding and our largest ship repair yard, Severodvinsk was also the only manufacturer of ship artillery towers. A million tonnes of military cargo, received under the Lend-Lease programme, were handled at the Severodvinsk seaport.
Mr President, taking into account the above cities’ contribution to Victory, we propose considering the possibility of awarding the above 12 cities with the City of Labour Valour honorary title.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Go ahead please, Mr Shoigu.
Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, colleagues,
For many years, the Ministry of Defence has been taking drastic measures to protect Russian war memorials.
The federal target programme, Perpetuating the memory of those who died defending the Fatherland, was adopted in 2019 and has been successfully implemented since then. It provides for the repair, improvement and preservation of memorials and soldiers’ graves.
Last year, at the Defence Ministry’s initiative, Russia introduced criminal liability for the desecration of military graves and monuments to the defenders of the Fatherland. Amendments have been made to federal laws extending the authority to perpetuate the memory of defenders who died for their Fatherland to regional governments along with the responsibility for the maintenance of military burials on their territory.
Furthermore, search activities are being monitored and coordinated to prevent grave robbery. As of today, 1,593 search teams are registered in Russia, which include more than 48,000 scouts.
In 2005, the Defence Ministry created the 90th Separate Special Search Battalion. Conscripts from among members of public search groups serve in that battalion. Last year, despite lockdowns and restrictions, the service members conducted eight search expeditions.
A centralised registry of military graves is in place. According to the recent inventory, there are 43,866 military burials; the total number of inhumed people is more than 8.6 million, including 4.5 million people buried in Russia.
We use new information and digital technologies to collect and store information. In 2007, we created an integrated database, Memorial, which was later transformed into a state information system – the Memory of the People interactive service. It is a Book of Memory as well as a publicly available archive. The project is obviously effective. Over the course of the project, the fate and burial places of more than 2.4 million people have been established. This information system continues to evolve.
A website that compiles documents on all the hostilities in which Russia ever took part will be created by the end of 2023. The name of it will be the People’s Memory – A Chronicle of the Fatherland’s Military History.
I want to touch separately on the issue of burial sites of Soviet soldiers abroad.
Currently, there are over 12,000 of these burial sites in 56 countries. Of the 4.15 million soldiers whose remains were found outside Russia, 861,000 have been identified. The names of the rest – over 3 million – are still unknown. That is why we, along with the Foreign Ministry and international organisations, are working hard to identify them.
Russia has signed intergovernmental agreements with 16 countries on mutual commitments to maintain the burial sites of soldiers. Mixed intergovernmental commission meetings are held regularly with half of them to fulfil the agreements.
In 2011, the Agreement on Perpetuating the Memory of the Courage and Heroism of the Peoples of the CIS Countries During the Great Patriotic War was signed. The Defence Ministry opened its missions in countries where there are many burial sites of Soviet solders. They take proper care of the graves, search for other burial sites and identify the names of those killed in action.
I have to say with regret that the dramatic decline in the international situation, the erosion of the international legal system, blatant Russophobia and the information war unleashed against Russia have hampered our war-related memorial activities abroad. However, we believe the efforts to find yet more evidence of liberation missions and the heroic deeds of the Soviet people help, to a considerable extent, thwart attempts to re-write the outcome of WWII.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Shoigu.
Mr Bogdanov, please go ahead.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov: Thank you very much.
Mr President, colleagues,
The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation, Russian diplomatic and consular offices abroad continue to work at preserving Russian (Soviet) war memorials located outside our country. They are working to restore and repair them in accordance with Russian law and the international treaties of the Russian Federation. This work is funded under the government programme on foreign policy activities.
Military burial sites, memorials and monuments related to World War II are located in 45 countries. Most of them are in Europe, primarily Germany, which has over 4,000 of these sites.
The Russian Federation has 15 bilateral treaties on the maintenance of military burial sites and one multilateral agreement that is valid on CIS territory. We have to state that currently few of our partners are responsible contractors. Many of them avoid fulfilling their commitments under different pretexts.
At the same time, we note that foreign states like Austria, Norway, France and some others treat our military grave sites with due respect even in the absence of a bilateral agreement. They also support our projects on perpetuating the memory of the achievements of Soviet soldiers. Thus, the Norwegian Hasvik Municipality plans to install a memorial plaque to honour the memory of the Catalina amphibious aircraft Soviet crew that crashed in this area in 1944. This is a joint project of the Foreign Ministry and Defence ministry of the Russian Federation.
As for the preservation of military monuments, we need to approach each memorial on a case-by-case basis.
The renovation and maintenance of our war memorials abroad is carried out by Russian foreign missions and funded by the federal budget. With the amount of money allocated for this purpose, about 300 cemeteries, cemetery sections, individual graves and monuments are renovated and beautified every year.
In 2020, the Russian Ministry of Finance approved additional allocations from the budget as part of the events to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945, which made it possible to renovate such important landmarks as the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn, Estonia, and Alyosha in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and to implement a project to install memorial plaques at the Soviet military cemetery in Zvolen (Slovakia), where more than 11,000 names of Soviet soldiers who died in battles across the Banska Bystrica Region of Czechoslovakia were immortalised.
Despite the COVID-19 related restrictions abroad, most of the planned repair, renovation and improvement activities were implemented. In this context, we would like to thank the Ministry of Finance for approving higher allocations last year. At the same time, we cannot help but note a significant decrease in the funds allocated for our projects this year as well as the 2022–2023 planning period.
We proceed with our work on war memorials on the premise that war grave sites, monuments and landmarks in foreign countries are a visible embodiment of the memory of the heroism and courage of Soviet soldiers and officers who gave their lives while fighting Nazism. We regard the preservation and maintenance of these commemorative places abroad as an essential part of the state policy to counter the falsification of history and the denial of the Red Army’s liberation mission in Europe.
In this context, we believe it counterproductive to discuss moving them to memory parks. Ideas to establish such parks both in Russia and abroad have been sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry many times. We believe that these memorials retain their deep and substantive meaning when they remain where they were erected.
The war against the historical memory that started after the disintegration of the USSR has gained momentum in the past few years and actually acquired an ideological character. Many European countries have turned this into a fundamental policy principle in building relations with Russia.
The Baltic region has become a true breeding ground for historical revanchism. Poland is deliberately and purposefully destroying the evidence of what and who allowed it to preserve its independence and identity.
Attempts are made to eradicate the memory of the liberating soldiers from the minds of Europeans: from early childhood, they are being told at home and at school a distorted history of World War II. These stories bear traces of whitewashing embarrassing episodes. As a direct consequence of this, the number of acts of vandalism against Soviet memorials abroad continues to grow.
It is hard to imagine that a law-based state can officially approve the destruction of monuments and even consider it a kind of patriotism. However, this is the trend we are witnessing now. Moreover, national laws are being deliberately tailored to suit this trend while interstate agreements are ignored.
Poland is the most obvious example of this approach. Its authorities have invented a concept of so-called symbolic monuments slated for de-communisation. Meanwhile, this contradicts the provisions of the intergovernmental agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland on burial and memorial sites devoted to the heroes of the war and the reprisals of February 22, 1994. Moreover, these actions also violate an explicitly specific list of memorials to the Soviet defenders of the Fatherland who perished on the territory of the Republic of Poland, which was compiled by Russian and Poland officials in 1997. This list mentioned 561 sites. Now, according to our embassy in Warsaw, as of March 31 of this year, i.e., the end of the first quarter, only 112 of these sites are still being preserved in this country. In other words, 449 Soviet memorials located outside burial sites have been eliminated in violation of the existing agreements.
Ukraine chose a perverted version of fighting its own past, with its anti-Soviet inquisition cracking down on everything Russian, not necessarily related to the Soviet Union. A monument to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov was dismantled in Kiev as part of the so-called decommunisation policy Ukraine borrowed from Poland.
It is sad to watch the Czech Republic, also infected with this virus of fighting monuments, consistently erase the memory of Soviet soldiers and, personally, Marshal of the Soviet Union Ivan Konev, who rescued Czechoslovakia, and choose new heroes from among champions of Nazism instead. This policy is pursued at the level of local heads of urban districts of Prague, with the absolute connivance of the central authorities responsible for interstate interaction and for the implementation of bilateral agreements.
For its part, the Russian Federation strictly abides by its obligations in the field of military memorial cooperation with foreign countries. Unlike our supposedly more civilised neighbours, we do not fight with the dead and do not treat veterans who defeated Nazism and Nazi collaborators as equal.
Despite the objective reasons for the current restrictions, and despite all artificial bans sophisticatedly invented by our foreign colleagues, Russian diplomats continue holding memorial events on a regular basis, involving our compatriots. In addition to the Victory Day celebrations, these events mark other memorable dates from Russia’s military history. They also conduct relevant awareness and explanatory work. They regularly convey your personal greetings and best wishes to war veterans, as well as anniversary medals and gifts, Mr President.
Specific proposals on retaliatory measures for the said disgraceful attacks by foreign countries are being worked out as part of an interdepartmental process in the Security Council of the Russian Federation. We are considering using other countries’ attitude to Russian and Soviet war memorial heritage and historical memory as a possible criterion for their inclusion on the list of unfriendly countries, to which counteraction measures will be applied as stipulated by Russian laws.
In closing, let me thank the Defence Ministry for many years of productive cooperation and commend its foreign missions for their energetic activities in organising and conducting military memorial work. And I would also like to emphasise the contribution of the Russian Military History Society which, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, is creating a global online interactive map of memorial sites.
We look forward to concluding a cooperation agreement with the Search Movement of Russia in order to systematise search activities outside of our country.
We would also like to express our gratitude to Pokoleniye (Generation) Charitable Foundation and Gazprom’s Latvian office for their help in restoring our foreign-based memorial sites. We also call on specialised Russian NGOs and foreign-based Russian businesses to participate in this noble cause.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Executive Secretary of the public movement for perpetuating the memory of those who fell defending the Fatherland “Search Movement of Russia” Yelena Tsunayeva: Mr President, may I?
Vladimir Putin: Please go ahead.
Yelena Tsunayeva: Thank you.
I will be brief. Yelena Tsunayeva, Search Movement of Russia.
In your remarks, you touched on a very important subject, namely, the attempts to reinterpret our history that come from abroad. Importantly, this is not the first and, apparently, not the last time they are doing this. Indeed, as soon as our country becomes stronger, we see attempts to hold us back. This was the case 100, 200, and 400 years ago and it is happening today. The reasons for imposing sanctions on us are pulled out of thin air.
But we understand that their only goal is to bring to a halt our country’s growth and progress, which makes us stronger. In fact, the sanctions are imposed not because we said or did something wrong, but because they needed to come up with something. They would have come up with sanctions no matter what. They are afraid of a strong Russia, it frightens them. But I am here to say that we have no choice. We love our country and, of course, we must do our best to develop and strengthen our country.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Lena, I would like to add something in this regard.
You are absolutely right, just as I have said in my welcoming remarks. It is always the case: when Russia grows stronger, reasons are found to restrain its development. As one of our emperors said, everyone fears our immensity. Even after the Soviet Union had ceased to exist (which was the same thing as Russia historically, just called by a difference name and with a different ideology, but geopolitically it was Russia), even after losing one third of its potential, Russia was still too large for some.
And that potential is indeed colossal; its total area remains the largest in the world, with a population of 146 million, which may seem small compared with countries with populations of hundreds of millions or even over a billion, but it is still considered a lot. And some people dare to say in public that it is unjust for Russia alone to possess the riches of a region like Siberia. It is strange to hear such things, especially in public, but you do hear it from time to time. Everyone wants to bite us or bite off a piece of Russia. But anyone who tries it should know that we will knock out their teeth so that they cannot bite. This goes without saying, and the development of our Armed Forces guarantees it.
At the same time, I would like to note once again that we are not going down the path of militarising our economy. This year we have allocated 3.116 trillion rubles for our national defence. If we calculate the sum at the current exchange rate (which is 74 rubles to the dollar), that is around $42 billion. Only $42 billion. The United States spends over $770 billion. In absolute terms, Russia is somewhere in the top ten, though closer to the bottom. Not only is the US ahead of us but also China, India, Saudi Arabia, and all the leading European countries: Germany, France, and Great Britain. Even countries like Japan spend a little more on national defence than Russia, despite the fact that they do not have an army according to the Constitution. And they still spend more.
Of course, spending in percentage terms is obviously what matters to us. And here, too, last year we spent 3.1 percent of GDP, while the United States spent 3.3–3.4 percent, and NATO countries, two percent: not all of them, but the goal is two percent. A country like Saudi Arabia spends 8.4 percent, and Israel 5.3–5.4 percent, if I am not mistaken. Russia, on the contrary, has a downward trend: while last year it was 3.1, this year it fell to 2.7 or even 2.6 percent. Again, 2.6 in 2022 and 2.5 percent of GDP in 2023. We are not close to militarising the economy, not in the slightest.
Naturally, the question arises: What is the state of the Armed Forces and the prospects for their development? Strange as it may seem – it sounds strange to many – everything is all right. We have the most advanced nuclear deterrent forces of all nuclear powers. We can say with confidence that it is a cutting-edge deterrent.
We have acquired an altogether new type of strategic arms – the Avangard intercontinental hypersonic glide vehicle. We have hypersonic weapons that nobody else has, and we continue to develop them. We are acquiring new aircraft systems that have no analogues in the world, surface warships and submarines, and the most advanced drones. How do we manage? We develop them by rationally spending the state-allocated defence budget, preserving and developing academic schools, training engineers, and concentrating administrative and financial resources on the most important areas of Armed Forces development. Credit also goes to the ability of our analysts to determine these areas.
Due to these factors – we could certainly talk about many others, but nonetheless – we are succeeding in maintaining our Armed Forces at a proper level, without militarising the budget. We will continue this approach into the future.
As for what I mentioned in the beginning and what you said just now, this is certainly true. No matter what we do to satisfy the appetites of those who try to deter us, this deterrence will continue because many of our opponents, let’s call them that, simply do not need a country like Russia.
However, we need it, our people, the citizens of the Russian Federation need it and we will do everything we can not only to preserve it but also to make it stronger. To reach this strategic goal we must, without doubt, do all we can to preserve the memory of what happened in previous years and cherish the memory of those who defended our Homeland.
Ms Tsunayeva, we consider the work that you are doing to revive the memory of the defenders of our Fatherland very important; this includes the work that other public organisations have been doing in this regard for many years under arduous conditions. This is sometimes fraught with risk, especially for the searchers (I hope security measures will be fully observed).This work is extremely important for us.
This is exactly what we are doing in the Pobeda (Victory) Committee. Thank you very much.
If someone wants to add something or offer proposals or remarks, go ahead please. Is this it? All right, thank you.
Let’s work on giving effect to the agenda proposed today. This concerns the awarding of honorary titles, care for veterans, and the perpetuation of monuments and our war memorials. We will certainly continue this work.
I would like to thank all of you and wish you success.
Thank you very much.