Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to re-arm the Russian armed forces and make Russia one of the world's top five economies over the next decade, arguing the country must be strong to resist foreign interference.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr. Putin laid out a $700-billion programme of across-the-board modernisation of Russia's war arsenals by 2020.
The production of ballistic missiles will be doubled from 2013; the armed forces will induct new missile systems, such as the long-range RS-24 Yars and Bulova and the short-range Iskander, and the S-500 anti-missiles capable of knocking down targets in space. “We must completely re-equip the armed forces in the next 10 years,” he said.
The main lesson from the global financial crisis, he said, was that Russia must be “self-reliant and strong” to resist outside pressure. “In today's world, if you're weak, someone will surely come and give you advice which way to go and what policy to pursue,” said Mr. Putin, adding such advice amounted to “flagrant diktat and interference in internal affairs”.
The Premier's two-hour address was billed as an annual report on the Cabinet's performance, the last one before the presidential election next year; but it looked more like a campaign speech, with promises of higher living standards and more rapid economic growth.
By 2010, “Russia must join the ranks of five leading global economies,” said Mr. Putin. “Per capita Gross Domestic Product must reach $35,000, more than what France or Italy have today.”
Mr. Putin, who served as President from 2000 to 2008, has repeatedly stated that he and his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev would together decide who would run for President in 2012.