Russia launches $650 bn defence spending drive

Russia added 8 nuclear submarines & hundreds of warplanes to its defence.

Updated: Feb 24, 2011, 22:00 PM IST

Moscow: Russia launched a USD 650 billion
rearmament plan on Thursday to counter the West`s military dominance
by adding eight nuclear submarines and hundreds of warplanes
to its creaking armed forces.

Details of the long-flagged Kremlin procurement plan
through 2020 see Russia acquiring a total of 20 submarines and
more than 600 warplanes in place of a creaking fleet of
outdated jets that have been losing international clients.

Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin said Russia
would build a total of 100 new ships and acquire 1,000
additional helicopters -- figures that would dramatically
swell the number of modern and battle-ready craft.

"The main task is the modernisation of our armed
forces. Nineteen trillion roubles (USD 653 billion) will be
allocated for this," news agencies quoted Popovkin as saying.

"We are not interested in purchasing any foreign
weapons or military equipment," he added.

The Kremlin has vowed repeatedly to boost spending on
a dilapidated military, whose 2009 exercises were scoffed at
by the United States` mission to NATO in cables published by
the WikiLeaks website.

The US official said the war games showed that Russia
was only capable of engaging in a small- to mid-sized local
conflict that did not require the engagement of more than one
branch of the armed forces.

The assessment added that Russia "continues to rely on
aging and obsolete equipment" and further suffers from a
"manpower shortage".

A Moscow newspaper reported in September that another
in a series of poor army drafts brought the armed forces`
total number to about 800,000 troops -- well short of the
million-man army foreseen in planning.

The Kremlin has spent recent years trying to devise a
military strategy that would see targeted spending on
high-profile weapons that enable Russia to compete with the
West both on the battle field and the open arms market.

The strategy announced today sees Russia funnelling
much of its resources on nuclear submarines and
next-generation anti-missiles defences to replace the already
popular S-300 system that had been sought by nations such as