Russia is developing an array of new nuclear and conventional weapons to counter recent moves by the US and Nato, but will carefully weigh the costs to avoid overburdening its economy, President Vladimir Putin said.
Addressing a Kremlin meeting on weapons modernisation plans, Mr Putin said the West should not be surprised about Moscow’s efforts in view of US missile defence plans and other decisions he said have threatened Russia’s security.
“We have warned many times that we would have to take corresponding counter-measures to ensure our security,” Mr Putin said, adding that he would now take personal charge of the government commission that oversees military industries.
He said the weapons modernisation programme for 2016-2025 should focus on building a new array of offensive weapons to provide a “guaranteed nuclear deterrent”, re-arming strategic and long-range aviation, creating an aerospace defence system and developing high-precision conventional weapons.
Mr Putin would not provide any details of prospective weapons, but he and other officials have repeatedly boasted about new Russian nuclear missiles’ capability to penetrate any prospective missile shield.
Mr Putin’s emphasis on high-precision conventional weapons reflects government concerns about the US and other Nato countries enjoying a significant edge in that area. He said that Russian defence industries must rid themselves of dependence on imports and quickly become capable of producing key components at home – a nod at recent Western sanctions against Russia barring arms sales.