The New Year holiday in Russia did not drag on this year. Without waiting for the Old New Year, Putin reshuffled the command of the military operation in Ukraine and held a meeting with the government.Discussing the 2023 outlook with senior officials
On January 11, Putin held the first meeting of the new year with government officials via videoconference. It would have looked rather routine if not for two things: first, comments by Deputy Prime Minister for Social Policy Tatyana Golikova were not included in the transcript
, nor was the discussion of social support for Russians or the organization of cash payments in the four recently annexed regions, despite the fact that at the beginning of the meeting (this remained in the transcript) Putin named this the main issue for discussion; second, Putin squabbled with Deputy Prime Minister for the Defense and Space Industry Denis Manturov about orders for defense enterprises not being given.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and the deputy prime ministers – with the exception of First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov – as well as the economic development and finance ministers, who regularly attend such meetings. Also in attendance were the ministers of transport, science and higher education, culture, health, and labor and social welfare, in addition to the head of Russian Railways.
The plan for the meeting looked rather straightforward: Putin outlined six main areas of work for 2023, invited Manturov to speak first and report on the implementation of the long-term programs to update the aircraft and watercraft fleets, and then proceeded to discuss the main areas of work he had outlined.
Later, during the meeting, Putin asked Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak about the situation in the oil and gas sector. Right before, Bloomberg, citing estimates of Finland’s Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, wrote
that the price cap on Russian oil is costing Russia $172 million a day, while after the cap is extended to refined products on February 5, the losses will increase to $280 million a day.
Novak took the tack of the socialist realist artist in the Soviet joke who painted a portrait of the one-eyed and one-armed tsar in profile from his normal side. He said that though there are difficulties, companies are not complaining about the high discount on Russian oil, and one can hope that it will be temporary and gradually decrease. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov struck a similar tone.
Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev and Russian Railways President Oleg Belozerov reported on the building of new logistics corridors; Deputy Prime Minister for Construction and Regional Policy Marat Khusnullin on the development of road and other infrastructure; and Siluanov on strengthening financial sovereignty.
At the beginning of the meeting, Putin gave a numbered list of the issues that were to be discussed. The three speakers mentioned above were to speak on the first, second and fourth issues, respectively. The third issue was expanding the technological capabilities of the Russian economy, for which the absent Belousov is responsible.