Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Russia boosts military spending

The Iskander missile system. File photo
The spending package will include 30 short-range Iskander missiles

Russia has set out plans to increase its military procurement over the next three years and commission 70 new strategic nuclear missiles.

A government official said there would also be more short-range missiles, combat planes, helicopters, tanks and naval vessels.

In all, Russia will spend nearly $140bn (94.5bn) on buying arms.

Higher oil revenues in recent years have allowed the Kremlin to increase the military budget, analysts say.

The move comes months after the war with Georgia, which exposed problems with outdated equipment and practices within Russia's armed forces and led to calls for military modernisation.

Missile row

The comments came from Vladislav Putilin, whose department oversees weapons industries, after a government session chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"More than 70 strategic missiles will be bought and delivered to troops in the next three years, more than 30 short-range Iskander missiles and a large number of booster rockets and aircraft," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

The military would also purchase 14 naval vessels, 48 combat jets, more than 60 military helicopters and almost 300 tanks, he added.

The move comes amid tensions with the US over its plan to deploy elements of a missile shield in Eastern Europe.

Last month President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Baltic enclave near Nato member Poland, if the US went ahead.

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