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MOSCOW — Russia launched a $650 billion rearmament plan Thursday to counter the West’s military

dominance by adding eight nuclear submarines and hundreds of warplanes to its creaking armed forces.

Details of the long-flagged Kremlin procurement plan through 2020 see Russia acquiring a total of
20 submarines and more than 600 warplanes in place of a creaking fleet of outdated jets that
have been losing international clients.

Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin said Russia would build a total of 100 new ships and
acquire 1,000 additional helicopters — figures that would dramatically swell the number of
modern and battle-ready craft.

“The main task is the modernisation of our armed forces. Nineteen trillion rubles ($653 billion) will
be allocated for this,” news agencies quoted Popovkin as saying.

“We are not interested in purchasing any foreign weapons or military equipment,” he added.

The Kremlin has vowed repeatedly to boost spending on a dilapidated military whose 2009
exercises were scoffed at by the United States’ mission to NATO in cables published by the
WikiLeaks website.

The US official said the war games showed that Russia was only capable of engaging in a small
to mid-sized local conflict that did not require the engagement of more than one branch of the
armed forces.

The assessment added that Russia “continues to rely on aging and obsolete equipment” and
further suffers from a “manpower shortage”.

A Moscow newspaper reported in September that another in a series of poor army drafts brought
the armed forces’ total number to about 800,000 troops — well short of the million-man army
foreseen in planning.

The Kremlin has spent recent years trying to devise a military strategy that targets spending on
high-profile weapons that enable Russia to compete with the West both on the battle field and the
open arms market.

The strategy announced Thursday sees Russia funnelling much of its resources on nuclear
submarines and next-generation anti-missiles defences to replace the already-popular S-300
system that has been sought by nations such as Iran.

It envisions the nuclear submarines equipped with a new generation of ballistic missiles and
supported by highly manoeuvrable frigates and other small destroyers.

Yet Russia’s strategy of regaining naval parity with the United States was hurt by confirmation
that the military did not earmark any spending on new aircraft carriers.

That will leave Russia with just one carrier for the coming decade compared to the 11 in
operations and six kept in reserve by the United States.

The air force also appears to be delaying plans to launch its next generation of strategic bombers
— a project that has been advertised through the media for much of the past decade.

Analysts said the ambitious plan would in effect create a brand new Russian military that finally
cut links with its Soviet past.
“Only about 10 percent of Russia’s armed forces may be really be described as modern,” said
independent military analyst Alexander Golts.

But he added that the plan threatened to get bogged in Russia’s layered military industrial
complex — a Communist-era system that involves dozens of opaque state enterprises with murky
spending practices.

“Without a radical reorganisation of our defence industry, this money will just go to waste,” said
Golts.

He added that much of Russia’s focus appeared mistakenly aimed at keeping nuclear parity with
the United States at a time when the greatest threats to the country’s security were coming from
North Korea and Central Asia.