‘Don’t you understand the situation we’re in?’ Vladimir Putin lashes out at minister

The public reprimand resembled a more dramatic incident three days prior to the start of the conflict, when Mr. Putin instructed his senior security officials to decide whether or not to recognise two occupied regions of eastern Ukraine as independent states.

During the first meeting of his government in 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin lost his cool and publicly reprimanded Denis Manturov, the minister of trade and industry.

He accused Denis Manturov of ordering military and commercial aircraft with bureaucratic delays for many minutes.

The Russian president, who has never been one to hold back in publicly criticising senior officials, added, “Too long, it is taking too long.”

“What are you fooling around for? When will the contracts be signed?”

The inaugural meeting of the government was held on the same day that President Putin removed his top Ukrainian commander after only three months in office.

After a string of losses in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin was appointed in October, but he has been unable to change the path of the conflict.

President Putin often interrupted Mr. Manturov as the minister discussed plans for aeroplanes, helicopters, and boats during an otherwise positive video call that was shown on Russian television and in which President Putin lauded his ministers’ management of the economy.

He said, “These 700 aircraft, including helicopters… you need to sort this out with the defence ministry… several enterprises still haven’t received any orders.”

Since 2012, Mr. Manturov has been a dependable member of President Putin’s cabinet, travelling frequently on both local and international trips.

Inadequacies in the Russian weapons industry had already been made clear on the battlefield when he was given the responsibility for managing it last summer.

The president interrupted, arguing that it was taking too long as Mr. Manturov continued to describe how his ministry had started a programme to manufacture helicopter engines in St. Petersburg that were formerly built in Ukraine.

The minister vowed his department will work hard with its business partners as the duration of his public humiliation drew close. 

But an irate president made it clear that this was insufficient.

“No, do it within a month. Don’t you understand the situation we’re in? It needs to be done in a month, no later.”

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