Moscow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday Russia had launched "unprecedented" steps to boost the army as he played up his strongman credentials ahead of March 4 presidential polls he is likely to win.
"We have approved and we are carrying out unprecedented programmes to develop the armed forces and modernise Russia's military defence complex," Putin wrote in state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta as he bids for a third Kremlin term.
In the next decade, Russia will acquire more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, eight nuclear-armed submarines and around 20 non-nuclear submarines, more than 600 warplanes and 28 S-400 missile defence systems, he said.
"In total we are allocating around 23 trillion roubles ($773 billion, Dh2.84 trillion) in the next decade for these aims," Putin said in his sixth campaign article listing his political goals.
This announcement comes at a time when many commentators are speculating that Russia is longing to return to its Cold War days, which were characterised by a heightening of political and military tensions between superpowers the United States and the former USSR. Its ongoing defiance on Syria and support for Bashar Al Assad is relevant here. Putin, a former KGB officer, gave no details of specific threats, but argued that Russia had to develop weapons in order to protect itself from foreign attempts to wreak havoc around its borders. This boost for the Russian army could be an indication of a more aggressive military and diplomatic strategy in the years ahead.