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Putin vows to build missile defense system with new strategic weapons

PLA Daily 2004-02-19

MOSCOW, Feb. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his country may begin building its own missile defense system and the military will be equipped with new strategic weapons.

Speaking after watching missile launches in a northern Russian cosmodrome which is a part of the ongoing massive military exercise, Putin said Russia "must work for a breakthrough in developing new generation of defense hardware."

He pointed out that when other countries are increasing their military potential qualitatively and quantitatively, "Russia should have a military potential to counteract modern threats," according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

Russia reserves the right to update its armed forces to maintain its security, but it has no imperial or hegemonic ambitions, Putin stressed.

He did not elaborate on the new strategic weapons, only saying that they will be "capable to hit targets deep inside continents at hypersonic speed and change the altitude and direction of their flight," the Interfax news agency reported.

The Russian leader pledged to continue the cooperation with partners in developing new weapons, emphasizing that the efforts are not aimed at the United States.

Putin noted that he had informed US President George W. Bush about Russia's military achievements and Russian military forces will offer more detailed information to their US counterparts.

The Russian president, who also observed a naval exercise on Tuesday aboard a submarine, said he is pleased with the maneuver conducted by Russia's Northern Fleet.

The ongoing military exercise, which involves all branches of Russian military forces and is expected to last several weeks, is described as the country's largest war game over the past two decades.

However, two missile launch failures on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively have tarnished Putin's attempt to strengthen his undoubted victory in the upcoming presidential election by personally inspecting the massive maneuver.

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