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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia develops new arms procurement program for 2011-2020

RIA Novosti

19/01/2009 15:43 MOSCOW, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Defense Ministry has started the development of a new arms procurement program for 2011-2020, a Russian daily newspaper said on Monday, citing government sources.

The draft program, which has to be submitted to the parliament for approval by March 2010, is aimed at completely rearming the Russian military with new advanced weaponry, Nezavisimaya Gazeta said.

The current program for 2006-2015 was designed to modernize the Armed Forces, but proved to be ineffective and expensive. The government has allocated almost 5 trillion rubles (about $154 billion) for these purposes up to 2015, but the production of new armaments has been delayed.

Excessive losses in a brief military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August last year clearly showed that Russia's military equipment had become obsolete and the Armed Forces urgently needed modern weaponry.

Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, Chief of Àrmaments for the Russian Armed Forces, earlier said the current program must be implemented by 2011 in order to introduce the new one.

However, many experts are not optimistic about the prospects of a new arms procurement program.

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said Russia was expected to cut its defense budget by 30-40% due to the current economic crisis. In addition, the ongoing reduction of the Armed Forces will place additional burdens on the budget due to a growing number of social programs for retired military personnel.

"Therefore, we can say with certainty that prospects of both the current and future arms procurement programs are quite vague," Pukhov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

"It is a rather risky proposition on the part of Russia amid the economic crisis," he added.

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