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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Sets Themes for Russia's G8 Presidency

GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- President Vladimir Putin said Friday that the Group of Eight would concentrate on energy policy, declining population rates in Europe, the most serious infectious diseases and education when Russia took over the presidency next year.

Putin said that of all the G8 countries, only the United States' population was growing, and that was due to migration.

He said that his G8 colleagues had pledged their help to develop policies that would positively affect Russia's drastic demographic slide. Russia's population -- the largest in Europe -- has been declining steadily since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, with increased poverty, alcoholism, emigration and degradation of the health care system blamed for reducing birth rates and life expectancy.

He also said that the G8 would follow up on the current priorities of sending aid to developing countries and overcoming poverty, and would focus attention on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, some of which are severely impoverished.

Next year's summit will be held in St. Petersburg, Putin said. The city threw a large international gala for its 300th anniversary in 2003, and Putin said that no additional facilities would have to be built -- creating savings.

"Even in the Kremlin we don't have the infrastructure for such events," he told reporters at a briefing at the luxurious Gleneagles resort following the conclusion of the G8 summit.

St. Petersburg is Putin's hometown, and he has increasingly frequently hosted world leaders there.

With energy policy a key theme of Russia's G8 presidency, Putin said he had promised the other G8 leaders that Russia would increase its oil exports.

"Russia is constantly increasing the supply to world markets," he told reporters at a briefing following the conclusion of the Gleneagles summit. At present, Russia produces about 470 million metric tons, of which 230 million metric tons are exported. Putin said this figure would rise to between 250 million and 270 million metric tons. "We will increase our supply of crude and work to develop nuclear energy," he said.

He gave no timeline for the increase, but described a series of projects under way to augment Russia's energy transport capacity -- its perpetual Achilles heel. Russia's capacity to export its abundant oil and natural gas supplies has been hobbled by its limited and obsolete pipeline system. To boost that capacity, it will have to invest in infrastructure upgrades, in particular in the area of liquefied gas transportation and completion of oil pipelines to terminals where large tankers could be accommodated.

Putin said he had promised his fellow G8 leaders that Moscow would do its utmost to provide enough transportation infrastructure to supply energy to its partners, both pipelines and railways.

Putin described the plans for constructing a pipeline to Russia's Far East, which would reach both China and the Pacific Coast for shipment onward to Japan, and from Siberia to the White Sea to supply a sufficient amount of Russian crude to the North American market. He said China would be supplied with about 20 million metric tons of oil per year, and Japan -- which would be supplied by rail for part of the stretch -- with about 10 million metric tons.

Putin said Russia would increase its gas production by 40 billion cubic meters by 2010 -- a 6.5 percent boost.