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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian Air Force chief calls for stronger defense capability

RIA Novosti

18/08/2006 15:01 MOSCOW REGION, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia needs to strengthen its defense capability because the global military-political situation is deteriorating, the Air Force commander said Friday.

"The objective of strengthening the country's security has become a priority because of the current situation in the world," Army General Vladimir Mikhailov said. "The situation is constantly changing, and remains complicated, unpredictable and unstable."

Mikhailov said factors influencing military-political situation included the ambitions of the United States to maintain its status as the world's leader, attempts made by the U.S. and its allies to expand their military presence in regions where Russia traditionally has interests, NATO enlargement and the spread of Islamic extremism in Russia and near its borders.

"In this situation, the [Russian] political and military leadership...believes military power remains a traditional means of achieving political goals," the general said, adding that Russia had finally started a full-scale military development.

Mikhailov said various branches of the Armed Forces had exhibited a significant improvement in their combat readiness and fighting capabilities in recent exercises.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on August 9 that Russia would increase military spending by 70 billion rubles ($2.6 billion) in 2007.

The 2006 defense budget allocated less than $20 billion for defense spending, a fraction of the Pentagon budget's of $447 billion. China plans to spend about $29.6 billion on defense this year.

Kudrin said the increase would also cover service pay, which will rise by 50%.

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