Nuclear arsenal will ensure military edge over NATO, United States, Russia says

Thomas Grove — Reuters Jan 30, 2015

Russian missile in Red Square parade. Click to enlarge

Russian missile in Red Square parade. Click to enlarge

The chief of Russia’s armed forces said on Friday a strong nuclear arsenal will ensure military superiority over the West as Russia seeks to fulfill a multi-billion dollar plan to modernize its forces by 2020.

Russia, facing a likely recession this year after U.S. and European sanctions over Ukraine and a fall in oil prices, must deal with new forms of Western aggression, including economic confrontation, said armed forces chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

Despite deep economic woes, he said Russian armed forces would receive more than 50 new intercontinental nuclear missiles this year.

“Support for our strategic nuclear forces to ensure their high military capability combined with…growth of the military potential of the general forces will assure that (the United States and NATO) do not gain military superiority over our country,” said Gerasimov.

Tensions between Russia and the West have risen over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where the United States and Europe say Moscow is fueling an insurgency by sending in troops and weapons. Moscow denies this.

Russia has criticized NATO expansion in eastern Europe and President Vladimir Putin has accused the Ukrainian army, which is fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, of being puppets of NATO with a policy of “containing” Russia.

Russian military planes increasingly have been spotted over Europe on radar in recent months. Britain summoned the Russian ambassador on Thursday for an explanation to the flight of two Russian long-range bombers that flew over the English Channel, forcing British authorities to reroute civil aircraft.

Russia promises to push through by 2020 a more than 20-trillion-rouble ($286.62 billion) military modernisation plan conceived by Putin, and military expenditures will remain unchanged even in the face of a growing economic crisis that has cut the budgets of other ministries.

The modernisation project aims to revamp Russia’s weapons systems to assure that 70-100 percent of the armed forces weapons and equipment has been modernized by the end of the decade — a plan confirmed by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“We plan to fulfill the government armament program and reach by 2020 the intended quantities of modern weapons systems,” he said at the meeting.

Speaking against a backdrop of rising prices brought on in part by a weaker rouble, Gerasimov said Russia had to deal with new forms of Western aggression.

“Western countries are actively using new forms of aggression, combining military as well as non-military means. Political, economic and information methods are also being used,” Interfax news agency cited him as saying.

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