Russia Must Boost Defense Timely as NATO Stepping Up Military Presence - Putin
MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russia must complete boosting its defense capabilities timely and in full amid the increased NATO military presence near Russian borders, President Vladimir Putin Tuesday.
"In fact, NATO is demonstratively reinforcing its grouping on the territory of East European states, including in the areas of the Black and Baltic Seas," Putin told a meeting of Russia's Security Council.
"Because of this, we need to implement all planned measures to boost the country's defense capabilities fully and in time, naturally including Crimea and Sevastopol, where we de-facto have to rebuild military infrastructure from scratch," the Russian leader said.
Russia is currently implementing an ambitious 20 trillion ruble ($640 billion) rearmament program planned to run up until 2020.
The program will see the share of modern weaponry in Russia's armed forces reach 30 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020.
Following Crimea's reunification with Russia, NATO has been systematically stepping up its presence near the Russian border, citing a need to protect its allies. The alliance dispatched several warships to the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. This month the group of NATO ships in the Black Sea grown to nine vessels, setting a record for recent decades.
NATO has also reinforced air patrol of the Baltic states, with radar-equipped planes making regular flights over the territory of Poland and Romania.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over Western pressure on Russia.
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