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Putin Lays Out Russia’s Role in the New Emerging Economy

June 10—President Vladimir Putin gave the opening speech at the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum June 7. The hour-long speech focused on the economy, both nationally and internationally. He noted the tremendous growth of the Russian economy, in spite of the obstacles being thrown up by those countries eager to maintain their own “hegemony” by destroying Russia and other countries through sanctions. Russia is now in the top four of the economic producers in terms of GDP, putting it even ahead of Japan, he said. Putin attributed this accomplishment to the shift in the orientation of Russia’s economy to the countries of the Global South. Between 2020 and 2023, trade with Asia had grown by 60%; with Africa, by 69%; with Latin America, by 42%; and with the Middle East, by double—a twofold increase. “Both in modern conditions and in the long term, the role, weight and, I dare to say, moreover, the future of states, depends on how effectively they can to respond to global challenges, to realize their internal potential, to use the competitive advantages and neutralize weaknesses, maintain and strengthen partnerships with other countries,” Putin said.

He noted that developing these new markets required a corresponding increase in transportation links. He then outlined the projects that were being undertaken by Russia in this regard, including the development of the “Eastern Polygon of Railroads,” as well as a North-South rail line from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean, and another rail line to the Azov Sea and the Black Sea. Not only rail: There is also the development of the Northern Sea Route and acquiring access to Russia’s Arctic ports. “In general, it is predicted that by 2030 the volume of traffic on international transport corridors through the territory of Russia will increase by one and a half times compared to 2021, primarily due to an increase in competitiveness of these routes, their convenience for business, and for the carriers.”

Having established this context, Putin then delved into the “third rail” (for Wall Street and the City of London) of necessary changes in payment procedures and financial arrangements now under consideration. He said that trade in rubles had increased by 40% between 2020 and 2023. “It is no secret, of course, that reliability and trust in Western payment systems have been thoroughly undermined, and by the Western countries themselves,” Putin remarked. He drew attention to the fact that last year, the share of payments for Russian exports in toxic currencies of “unfriendly states” had been cut in half.

“Together with foreign partners, we will increase the use of national currencies in foreign trade settlements, (and) improve the security and efficiency of such operations,” Putin said. “In particular, the BRICS is working on the formation of an independent payment system that is not subject to political pressure, abuse and external sanctions.”

In other parts of the speech, he underlined the reduction in imports, not through punitive tariffs, but by Russia developing its own domestic sources for many of the products it was previously importing. He stressed the emphasis that Russia was placing on its high-tech development, both in the civilian and military sphere. He stressed the importance of productivity increases, in particular, because of the demographic crisis. He elaborated on the development of the school and university system to produce the needed industrial cadre, and called for increased wages and support to education. Given Russia’s lack of teachers, Putin also encouraged pensioners to remain active in that field, promising greater compensation for their engagement in training a new generation.

Summing up, President Putin said: "The global economy has entered an era of serious, fundamental changes…. There is taking shape a multipolar world with new centers of growth, investment and financial ties between the states and companies. The Russian economy is responding to these challenges and is changing just as dynamically, acquiring a large strength and stability….

“We will ramp up support for positive changes in society and in the economy. It is precisely on this—on the achievement of national goals development—that our long-term systemic plans to strengthen financial, technological, and personnel sovereignty of our country, to improve the business climate are focused. And in this work, we are open to the widest possible cooperation with all stakeholders partners: with foreign companies, countries, and integration alliances,” Russia’s President concluded.

The English translation of Putin's remarks in writing is partially available; the Russian transcription is complete.

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