Russia to continue modernizing its nuclear deterrent

February , 2009, Moscow -- Russia will continue developing and modernizing its nuclear triad in 2009 despite the current global economic crisis, a deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.

Russia's state defense orders for 2009 are worth about 1 trillion rubles ($28 billion), with money allocated to the Defense Ministry, as well as to more than 10 other ministries and agencies.

"The bulk of state defense orders in 2009 is allocated to the procurement of new weapons, R&D and modernization of existing arsenals, with priority given to the strategic nuclear triad, including the Strategic Missile Forces, the Navy and strategic aviation," Sergei Ivanov said in a speech to the lower house of Russia's parliament.

"It would certainly incur large expenses, but we do not have a choice, as we will have to continue developing and enhancing our nuclear deterrent," he said.

Ivanov added that the government also prioritizes the development of space-based intelligence-gathering and communications systems with the goal to create a national air-and-space defense network.

President Dmitry Medvedev said last year that Russia would make the modernization of its nuclear deterrent and Armed Forces a priority in light of the recent military conflict with Georgia.

"A guaranteed nuclear deterrent system for various military and political circumstances must be provided by 2020," Medvedev said.

Russia's military expenditure has been steadily growing recently, and the country reportedly plans to increase the current defense budget of $40 billion by 50% in the next three years. (RIA Novosti)

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