Russia’s military doctrine to stay defensive: Putin

Moscow, Dec 20 (IANS) Russia will follow a defensive military doctrine, in spite of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) building up its military presence in eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

“Our military doctrine, with an absolutely defensive nature, remains unchanged, while Russia will consistently and determinedly protect its security,” Putin said, at a meeting with senior military officials, according to a Xinhua report.

On Sep 11, Putin had ordered the government to draft a “balanced realistic option” for the state’s defence programme for 2016-2025, and present an updated military doctrine by the year-end, taking current situations “like NATO’s expansion” into consideration.

Moreover, Putin ordered at Friday’s meeting to fully equip the land-based Russian strategic nuclear arsenal with modern weapons by 2021, while the nuclear arsenal would be equipped with more than 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) next year.

Putin also reaffirmed plans to modernise the fleet of Russian strategic bombers and nuclear-powered submarines.

In November, Putin had urged the defence industry to start replacing foreign-made components with domestically-produced ones, in order to reach the target of modernising at least 70 percent of the equipments of the Russian armed forces by 2020.

While urging that the construction of military infrastructure on the Arctic islands should be finished in 2015, Putin reiterated that Russia is taking necessary steps to ensure that it has adequate defence capabilities in the Arctic region, rather than planning to militarise the region.

“Our actions in the region are measured and reasonably moderate, and they are absolutely necessary to ensure Russian defence capabilities,” Putin was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency, which was cited by the Xinhua report.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Pankov announced that the total number of professional soldiers serving in the Russian Armed Forces in 2014 has set an all-time record of 295, 000.

Pankov added that the ministry plans to contract at least 55,000 more professional soldiers in 2015.