MOSCOW – Less than two weeks before presidential elections, Vladimir Putin laid out his ambitious plans Monday for modernizing and strengthening Russia’s defense forces over the next decade, in the face of a threatening world and a powerful United States.
“For Russia to feel secure and for our partners to listen carefully to what our country has to say,” he wrote, Moscow must spend about $775 billion by 2022 for new armaments and a more professional military.
Two weeks before Russia holds its presidential election, hundreds of motorists circled central Moscow to demand that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin allow free elections. Saturday night, pro-Putin motorists hit the streets. (Feb. 19)
“We see zones of instability and artificially maintained, managed chaos emerging,” the current Russian prime minister wrote in a lengthy article that was one of a series of presidential campaign platforms. “Furthermore, we see how some are purposefully provoking such conflicts in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders.”
He said Russia’s military response to the U.S. missile defense shield would be “effective and asymmetrical.”
The promise to increase defense spending and modernize Russia’s forces is not new. On Monday, Putin said Russia will put more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles into service over the next 10 years, as well as eight nuclear submarines, 600 advanced aircraft, 2,300 tanks and an array of other equipment. Analysts, on the left and right, were skeptical that he can accomplish such a buildup.