‘Our army and navy need to have the very best equipment — better than foreign equivalents’
Russian business should be prepared to switch to production to military needs at any time, said Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The Russian president was speaking at a conference of military leaders in Sochi.
“The ability of our economy to increase military production and services at a given time is one of the most important aspects of military security,” Mr Putin said. “To this end, all strategic, and simply large-scale enterprise should be ready, regardless of ownership.”
A day earlier, the president had spoken of a need to catch up and overtake the West in military technology. “Our army and navy need to have the very best equipment — better than foreign equivalents,” he said. “If we want to win, we have to be better.”
Since the 2008 Georgian war, which was a difficult operation, the Russian military has undergone extensive modernisation. Ageing Soviet equipment has gone. There is a new testing regime. There are new command structures. The budget has also increased exponentially.
This year, military expenses will cross 3 trillion roubles, or 3.3 per cent of GDP. This would be a record were it not for one-off costs in 2016. Over the next two years, spending is forecast to be cut back slightly, to approximately 2.8 per cent of GDP.
Though that budget remains less than 30 per cent of the combined Nato budget in Europe, many countries are increasing their military spending in response to the “Russian threat”. Nato military command has also been restructured — it says in response to Russian cyber and military threats.
Last Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK would lead a response to counter “Russian hostility.” “We know what you are doing,” she said.
Russia delivered a typically diplomatic response by making Ms May its lead focus of the Vesti Nedeli flagship propaganda programme on Sunday.
Presenter Dmitry Kiselev kept his most disparaging remarks for the Prime Minister’s appearance.
“She delivered her most aggressive anti-Russian speech to date — but only to cover up the whiteness of her tired flesh,” Mr Kiselev said.