Medvedev Pledges Funds for Missiles

ReutersMedvedev and Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, left, visiting a top secret missile base in Teikovo on Thursday.
TEIKOVO, Ivanovo Region -- President Dmitry Medvedev pledged on Thursday to ensure that the country's nuclear deterrent remained properly funded to ward off threats to national security.

Medvedev made his first domestic trip as president to a top secret missile base in the Ivanovo region, a visit that underscored the strategic role of nuclear arms in the country's assertive world policy.

"It is obvious that our task in the next few years is to ensure strategic missile forces get all the necessary funds to be ready to withstand the existing threats," he told soldiers and officers over lunch at the camouflaged base in a forest 250 kilometers from Moscow.

As commander in chief of the armed forces, Medvedev has inherited from former President Vladimir Putin the "nuclear briefcase" of automated control over Russia's formidable nuclear arsenal.

Foreshadowing Medvedev's comments on Thursday, Putin last week promised to raise the salaries of members of the nuclear and air defense forces.

Medvedev, arriving at the base hidden in a thick pine forest, saw a dozen giant mobile launchers carrying Topol nuclear missiles, which were paraded before him.

He was later invited to see a new version of the missile, the Topol-M, which Kremlin and military officials alike call a 21st-century weapon. Several servicemen showed him how fast a Topol-M can fold up its equipment and change location.

"This is a response to all security threats to Russia, including missile defense," Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of strategic missile forces, told Medvedev, referring to U.S. plans to deploy parts of its missile shield in Eastern Europe.

Washington says it needs the shield to counter possible rocket launches by "rogue" states like Iran, but its plans have unnerved Moscow, which sees the project as a threat to its security.