Upgrade of Nuclear Deterrent Ordered

APPresident Medvedev watching military exercises near Orenburg on Friday.
President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday announced plans to create an upgraded nuclear deterrence system by 2020, including a space defense system and new nuclear submarines.

He said the need for the upgrade was demonstrated by the conflict with Georgia last month, when Russia launched a massive counter-offensive to crush an attempt by Georgian forces to retake the breakaway South Ossetia region.

"A guaranteed nuclear deterrent system for various military and political circumstances must be provided by 2020," Medvedev told military commanders after military exercises in the southern Orenburg region.

"Large-scale construction of new types of warships is planned, primarily nuclear submarines armed with cruise missiles and multipurpose submarines. An air and space defense system will be created," Medvedev said in remarks posted on the Kremlin web site and carried by state news agencies.

The president made no mention of the new Borei-class nuclear submarines, which are designed to carry a new intercontinental missile that is seen as a key future component of Russia's nuclear forces. The missile was successfully test fired earlier this month after repeated failures. The first of the new submarines is to be commissioned later this year, and two more are being built.

Medvedev ordered military commanders to present him with an action plan for implementing the changes by December.

"Just recently, we have had to rebuff an aggression unleashed by the Georgian regime and, as we found, a war can flare up suddenly and can be absolutely real. And local, smoldering conflicts, which are sometimes even called 'frozen conflicts,' will turn into a real military conflagration," Medvedev said.

Reuters, AP