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Meeting with Government members

Meeting with Government members

March 5, 2014, 15:40 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin held a planned meeting with Government members to discuss implementing the Finance Ministry’s programme of work for 2013-2018, the situation on the stock and currency markets, and other current issues.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues,

We are here to discuss the situation on the financial and currency markets, but before turning to that question, I would like to hear some updates on a couple of matters.

I know that the Prime Minister has already instructed the Finance Ministry to coordinate with our partners in Ukraine on possible provision of additional aid, as well as assistance for some Ukrainian regions that have come to us with such requests. What is the situation now? Could you update us?

FINANCE MINISTER ANTON SILUANOV: Mr President, overall, Ukraine is indeed facing a difficult situation. Budget spending is falling. Estimates show that only around 15 percent of planned budget spending is actually taking place at the moment.

Naturally, this affects the regions, including Crimea, and so we have organised cooperation now between our Finance Ministry and the Crimean Finance Ministry.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, I wanted to hear about Ukraine as a whole.

ANTON SILUANOV: What we are looking at for Ukraine as a whole is falling revenue, which will result in budget spending being revised downward by 15 percent.

In response, our foreign partners are offering aid, primarily through the International Monetary Fund. The United States and the European Union countries have also said they could provide support, and we think that we too should examine the various possibilities for providing assistance if the general situation worsens.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding the regions, do you propose that we work at regional level, work through the Russian regions?

ANTON SILUANOV: I know that Russian regions on the border with Ukraine have put forward proposals for financial aid, seeing as they have already concluded the relevant agreements with their neighbours on mutual cooperation and provision of financial support. These agreements could be implemented now.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good, thank you.

Mr Miller, you already briefed [Prime Minister] Mr Medvedev on the situation on the Ukrainian energy market. I am aware of the situation and know the details in principle. Has there been any change of late?

GAZPROM CEO ALEXEI MILLER: Mr President, of a total debt of $1.529 billion, Ukraine has paid off $10 million to date, but on March 7, the day after tomorrow, Ukraine’s debt commitments will increase by another $440 million in payments for February gas supplies.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Are they going to pay?

ALEXEI MILLER: Our Ukrainian colleagues have informed us that they cannot pay in full for the gas supplies in February.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: So what will this bring their total debt to?

ALEXEI MILLER: It will increase it substantially, bringing it up to around $2 billion.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see. Keep the Prime Minister updated on developments in the situation.

Yes, go ahead.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER DMITRY ROGOZIN: Mr President, I just want to add a couple of words on the electricity issue. You know that there are 15 nuclear power plant units currently in operation in Ukraine, as well as the four sealed units at the Chernobyl NPP.

This matter concerns us of course because the reactors are Russian-built. The plants are operating normally and everything is ok there, but external security at the facilities is the responsibility of private security firms and troops from Ukraine’s Interior Ministry and Security Service.

There is also the issue of transit of nuclear fuel via Ukrainian territory to our partners in Eastern Europe, and the issue of fuel supplies for the nuclear power plants in Ukraine itself.

Ukraine’s power stations have enough fuel reserves to get them through March and April, but that is it. A ban on fuel transit through Ukrainian territory is in place at the moment because of the unstable situation in the country.

We plan to go through [State Atomic Energy Corporation] Rosatom to request that the IAEA conducts an additional inspection of external security at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have a request to you and your colleagues working in energy and finance. We are aware of the tense political situation, but it should not affect our on-going economic cooperation. We should not add difficulties to an already complicated situation. We need to keep working with all of our established partners. Of course we need to look after our interests too. No one ever gets anything for free, and this is still the rule today. But we should not exacerbate the situation and should not let our economic cooperation become hostage to the political situation.

To be continued.

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