MOSCOW – Russia is developing an array of new nuclear and conventional weapons to counter recent moves by the U.S. and NATO, but will carefully weigh the costs to avoid overburdening its economy, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
Addressing a Kremlin meeting on weapons modernization plans, Putin said the West shouldn’t be surprised about Moscow’s efforts in view of U.S. missile defense plans and other decisions he said have threatened Russia’s security.
“We have warned many times that we would have to take corresponding countermeasures to ensure our security,” Putin said, adding that he would now take personal charge of the government commission that oversees military industries.
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He said the weapons modernization program for 2016-2025 should focus on building a new array of offensive weapons to provide a “guaranteed nuclear deterrent,” re-arming strategic and long-range aviation, creating an aerospace defense system and developing high-precision conventional weapons.
Putin wouldn’t provide any details of prospective weapons, but he and other officials have repeatedly boasted about new Russian nuclear missiles’ capability to penetrate any prospective missile shield.
Putin’s emphasis on high-precision conventional weapons reflects government concerns about the U.S. and other NATO countries enjoying a significant edge in that area.
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Putin said potential threats must be thoroughly analyzed, and an “adequate response” given to each of them to avoid excessive military spending.
He said that Russian defense industries must rid themselves of dependence on imports and quickly become capable of producing key components at home – a nod at recent Western sanctions against Russia barring arms sales.
Russia-West relations have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War times over the crisis in Ukraine. A NATO summit last week decided to create a rapid-reaction “spearhead” force to protect Eastern Europe from Russian bullying.
Putin accused the West of using the crisis to reinvigorate NATO.