During a live video call, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed one of his deputy prime ministers for working too slowly on the country’s aircraft contracts.
During a meeting with government officials broadcast on state television Wednesday, Putin criticized Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov, telling him to work on securing orders for civil and military aircraft for 2023 within a month “and no later.”
Manturov is in charge of setting up 175 billion rubles’ ($2.56 billion) worth of contracts with state airline Aeroflot, according to Reuters. Putin said none of these aircraft contracts were ready.
When Putin said Manturov should speed up the process for the aircraft orders, the minister, who is in charge of aviation and other high-tech industries, tried to explain himself to the president.
Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone on January 3. At right, Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov visits the Aeronet 2035 Drone Exhibition on November 1 in Moscow. On Wednesday, Putin publicly reprimanded Manturov for an absence of aircraft contracts.
“It is taking too long! Much too long. Please, I ask you to expedite this work,” Putin said. He added that companies need to know what their immediate plans and orders are going to be in order to hire workers and to allow the companies to maintain or expand production capacity.
“They need to know how much the military department will order and how many civilian aircraft will be ordered. But certain companies do not have contracts even for 2023,” Putin said.
As Manturov tried to tell Putin that orders had been drawn up for civil and military aircraft, the president interrupted: “Manturov, you say everything is ready to go, but there are no contracts. This is what I am telling you. Let’s discuss this after the meeting. There is no point in our splitting hairs at this point.”
The president continued: “I know no contracts have been signed with the enterprises. The directors told me so. What are you fooling around for? When will the contracts be signed? This is my point. Directors of enterprises are telling me there are no contracts while you are telling me that everything is ready to go.”
Putin demanded that Manturov get the contracts signed as soon as possible.
“I want all of this to be done within a month…. Do we not understand the circumstances we are in? Please complete this work within a month. OK?”
Broadcast on state TV, the head of the trade ministry told Putin that things were in place ‘taking into account testing, certification and the import substitution programme.’
Russia is under sanctions for its war in Ukraine meaning it can’t access western tech – inc for planes. pic.twitter.com/Ccq58obDxs
— Emma Burrows (@EJ_Burrows) January 11, 2023
When the minister said he and his colleagues would “try to do our best,” Putin told Manturov, “No, do not try to do your best. Please get it done in a month. It must be done in a month, no later. Agreed?”
A visibly frustrated Putin went on: “Do you know why I mentioned this? I took note of some of the wording. You said, ‘We will do it soon.’ What does soon mean? The time frame must be clear and comprehensible. I am not pulling it out of thin air, am I? Directors of enterprises are telling me there are no contracts.”
Later, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by state-run news agency Tass as saying that Putin had “no serious complaints about Manturov’s work.”
“This is a normal workflow,” Peskov added.
After Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine last February, sanctions were imposed by the EU, the U.K. and the U.S. against the Russian aviation industry, including a ban on the supply of aircraft and related components and spare parts.
Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.