Putin Says Russia Needs Strong Military

Published February 20, 2012 6:36AM (EST)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia needs to modernize its military arsenals to deter others from grabbing its resources, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in article published Monday.

Putin, who is running to reclaim presidency in March 4 election, laid out his vision of military modernization in an article published Monday in the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

"Amid global economic upheavals and other shocks there always is a temptation to solve one's problems by using force to apply pressure," Putin wrote. "It's not accidental that even today we can hear voices saying that soon the issue of national sovereignty not applying to resources of global significance would "objectively" emerge."

Putin in his article didn't name any specific nation eyeing Russian mineral riches, but in the past he had repeatedly accused the United States of trying to weaken Russia in order to sideline a rival.

"We mustn't tempt anyone with our weakness," Putin said.

Putin said that the government plans spending about 23 trilliion rubles (about $770 billion dollars) over the next decade to purchase more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, more than 600 combat aircraft, dozens of submarines and other navy vessels and thousands of armored vehicles.

He said that Russia will respond to the planned U.S. missile defense by developing weapons capable of penetrating it, adding that "there can't be too much patriotism" on the issue.

Putin has dismissed the U.S. claim that the prospective shield is intended to counter the Iranian missile threat, saying that its real goal is to erode Russia's nuclear deterrent.

Putin said in the article that Russia also needs to look 30-50 years ahead to foresee threats posed by prospective new weapons technologies.

While a nuclear conflict looks unlikely, scientific progress leads to the emergence of new weapons that could change the character of war, Putin said. He specifically referred to precision long-range non-nuclear weapons, saying they emerge as key instrument of modern warfare.

While Putin on Monday stopped short of naming any nation developing the technology, Russia has long voiced concern with U.S. plans to re-equip some of its long-range nuclear missiles with conventional warheads.

Experts have warned that the obsolete equipment and aging workforce at Russian defense plants put a challenge to the ambitious weapons modernization program.

Putin said the government would need to focus on modernizing weapons-making plants, promising to encourage private investments in arms production.

By Salon Staff

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