Putin: Russia to boost nuclear arsenal with 40 missiles

Speaking at an arms fair, Mr Putin said the weapons would be able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defence systems.

It comes after the US proposed increasing its military presence in Nato states in Eastern Europe.

Tensions are high over Russia’s role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Nato and Western leaders accuse Russia of sending soldiers and heavy weapons, including tanks and missiles, to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly denied this, insisting that any Russians fighting there are “volunteers”.

‘Arms race’

The 40 nuclear missiles that Mr Putin referred to on Tuesday are not additional missiles, but replacements for old ones, says the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Moscow.

The new ones are more high-tech and capable of penetrating anti-missiles defences, our correspondent adds.

Russian officials have warned that Moscow will respond if the US carries out itsplan to store heavy military equipment in Eastern Europe, including in the Baltic states that were once part of the Soviet Union.

“The feeling is that our colleagues from Nato countries are pushing us into an armsrace,” RIA news agency quoted Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying on the sidelines of the arms fair outside Moscow.

Amidst the rising tensions with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed a renewed emphasis upon his country’s nuclear arsenal.

This is in part a reflection of Russia’s continuing conventional military weakness. Moscow is in the midst of a significant modernisation of its strategic nuclear weapons with new ballistic missiles being deployed, more modern bombers, and new submarines being launched.

Over recent years, older, obsolete weapons have been withdrawn from service, so the size of Russia’s overall arsenal has been shrinking.

However, this decline could soon come to an end, raising all sorts of questions for other nuclear powers.

What most alarms the West is the renewed emphasis in Russian rhetoric on nuclear rather than conventional forces.

Threats to deploy short-range nuclear weapons in Crimea have been accompanied by veiled warnings of nuclear targeting against Nato members who might hostballistic missile defences.



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