Putin says modernizing nuclear forces "asymmetric response" to US ABM plans

Thursday, Feb 23,2012, 8:38:46 PM

Russia is ahead of the USA in modernizing nuclear forces and has good prospects to eliminate its falling behind in the sphere of precision-guided weapons as part of an asymmetric response to the American missile defence project, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said.

Speaking at a meeting with brigade and division commanders on Wednesday [22 February], Putin dwelt for a long time on the issue of missile defence, laying the responsibility on the USA for upsetting the strategic balance in the world.

"The treaty on missile defence, on the one hand, and to limit strategic offensive weapons, on the other, created a balance, expressed in an internationally legal form as well. The Americans have gone and torn down one of these sides. What should we do? We either need to create missile defence for ourselves, or give some kind of asymmetrical response," Putin said.

Putin said that to set up one's own missile defence system, firstly, is expensive, and secondly, it is not clear how it will work.

"To invest money there may not be sensible for the time being, and the money there is colossal," he said, explaining the choice of asymmetric response.

Therefore, Putin said, Russia will reinforce the air defence forces, the air defence systems around Moscow and the strategic forces bases, build new tracking stations in addition to the existing three, and create "such systems for which [US] missile defence [systems] will be no hindrance".

"Now Topol-M and Yars at sea are the new-generation missiles. In this regard one can say that we are even moving slightly ahead of our American colleagues, because they still have to modernize their nuclear potential," Putin said.

"That said, they have gone much further than us in producing and using precision-guided and high-powered weapons, we are acting, working in this area," Putin said.

He said that Russia had "good prospects, perhaps even more interesting, than those of our partners".

"All this together will be our asymmetric response," Putin summed up.

The key task in building the Russian Federation's armed forces for the coming years is to practically fully re-equip the armed forces, Putin said.

"Over the next few years we should supply the forces with so much special equipment, hardware and arms that modern equipment will make up at least 70 per cent [of the total]," he said.

Putin said that "indeed effective, precision-guided and reliable arms will be supplied to the forces and the navy".

Putin said that the priorities were "the strategic nuclear forces, Aerospace Defence Troops, aviation, space systems and complexes, as well as equipment for reconnaissance, electronic warfare, communications and automatic control systems".

"Of course, these should be managed by real professionals," Putin said.

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