Russia Announces Large-Scale Military Rearmament

17 March 2009

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev addresses top military brass in Moscow, 17 Mar 2009
President Dmitry Medvedev addresses top military brass in Moscow, 17 Mar 2009
President Dmitri Medvedev says Russia will increase combat readiness and undergo large-scale rearmament in response to what he says is NATO expansion toward the country's borders.

President Dmitri Medvedev says Russia's armed forces must be modernized in response to local crises, international terrorism, and attempts to expand NATO infrastructure near the borders of Russia. Speaking at a meeting of senior Defense Ministry officials in Moscow, the Russian leader stressed the importance of re-arming troops with the latest armaments.

Mr. Medvedev says Russia is devoting considerable resources to develop and purchase new weapons. He notes that despite the country's current economic difficulties, the amount of those resources has mostly been sustained according to plan. He says a number of military units were modernized last year, and that large-scale rearmament of the army and navy will begin in 2011.

The Russian leader says military modernization involves enhancement of combat readiness, primarily the country's strategic nuclear forces. He says Russia must also address flaws revealed during the country's conflict with Georgia last August. The Kremlin leader adds that the armed forces must procure substantially more in terms of quantity and quality, and suggests weapons production is good for Russia's ailing defense industries.

Mr. Medvedev says Russia must stop repairing and start buying new military technology. He notes that repairs are no longer acceptable in a time of crisis when portions of the military-industrial complex are not working at full capacity. 

The Kremlin has long protested a plan initiated by the Bush administration to deploy a missile defense system in Central Europe, as well as U.S. encouragement of eventual NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. The Obama administration has not reversed those positions, but has indicated a need to reset U.S.-Russian relations.

President Barack Obama and Mr. Medvedev are expected to meet at the beginning of April during the G-20 summit in London.