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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defense Spending Could Double

Under a new 10-year plan for its armed forces, Russia intends to almost double defense expenditures if the new U.S. administration deploys a national missile defense system, a pro-Kremlin web site reported.

Defense expenditures would be increased from some 2.8 percent of gross domestic product to 5 percent, Strana.ru reported.

The Plan for Building the Armed Forces in 2001-2010, which was approved by the Security Council late last year, was officially endorsed by President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 16 and is to be presented to the Defense Ministry’s top brass as early as this week.

Reached Tuesday by telephone, Security Council spokesman Vladimir Nikanorov declined to comment on the Strana.ru report.

The plan also provides for drastic personnel cuts, from 1.2 million to 850,000 by 2003, and a downgrading of the Strategic Missile Force, or RVSN, which would be engulfed by the air force.

Officials at the central command of RVSN, which would bear the main responsibility for countering a U.S. national missile shield, would not comment Tuesday on how much Russia’s defense expenditures would go up if the United States deploys a missile defense system.

One RVSN official, who asked not to be identified, noted, however, that 5 percent of GDP would be enough.

The new U.S. administration of President George W. Bush strongly supports a national missile defense system, which would violate the U.S.-Soviet 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

If the United States goes ahead with such a system, the RVSN official said Russia would respond by withdrawing from the START II missile reduction agreement, which is yet to come into force, and installing multiple-reentry vehicles on its newest Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The official conceded that his force has not been able to commission more than 10 of these ICBMs a year and this year saw only six put on duty. However, he said, the RVSN can always extend the service life of those Soviet-made multiple-warhead RS-20 ICBMs (NATO designation: SS-18 Satan) that are "not too old."

Former President Boris Yeltsin decreed that 3.5 percent of GDP be spent on defense. In reality, however, defense spending has not climbed above 3 percent.

The Defense Ministry is to receive at least 218.9 billion rubles ($7.8 billion) in 2001, with GDP forecast at 6.45 trillion rubles. In comparison, about 110 billion rubles were spent on defense last year, with GDP put at 5.35 trillion rubles.