President-elect (and President now) of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin met with the senior officials of his campaign after his victory Sunday night to discuss what lies ahead for the next six years. The meeting with his officials happened on Monday and RT reported a surprising series of statements.
The main thing that we will be working on is of course the internal agenda. First of all we must ensure the growth rate for the economy and make it an innovative one. We must develop healthcare, education, industrial production, infrastructure and other branches that are crucial for moving our country forward and increasing the living standards of our citizens… Workforce productivity is a key issue. Let us work on this agenda together!” Mr. Putin said.
“Of course, there are also issues connected with the national defense and security, we cannot do without them, but still the internal agenda is of primary importance today…
“As for the defense expenditures, we have slated their decrease for this year and for the next year. This will not cause any problems for our defense capability, because the main investments into the development of the newest weapons systems have been made over the previous years,” Putin told his key supporters. “We just need to bring some things to their logical conclusion, to continue the research and development that I have not spoken about yet. There will be no increase in spending, no arms race. We have everything, we have secure reserves in this field,” the president concluded.
This is certainly an amazing statement given the increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the West, the increasing pressure being placed on Russia by NATO and the United States, (again, thankfully only through rhetoric) and also given that the American defense budget, usually ten times the Russian one, is always slated for increases in spending.
Given past performance in this area, there is every reason to believe that President Putin knows exactly what he is talking about, and that the focus will indeed be on internal matters.
While the economic pressure on Russia was magnified sharply by sanctions and deep drops in the price of crude oil, Russia has coped with this through a steady program of economic development and diversification, and she has entered into major partnerships with China and recently Saudi Arabia.