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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Plans 'Fundamental Refit' of Navy by 2020

SINGAPORE — President Dmitry Medvedev promised on Monday to increase naval spending and widen his country's presence in the world's oceans even as the global financial crisis is biting into the budget.

The naval spending rise is part of a planned "fundamental refit" of the armed forces between 2011 and 2020 that will replace up to 90 percent of the equipment in some parts of the armed forces, Medvedev said.

Russia has one of the largest navies in the world, including a submarine fleet second only to that of the United States.

The navy has held high-profile exercises in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean in recent years in a bid to reassert itself after the decade of decay that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

"Our task, so that our fleet and our flag appears in various locations, is to invest as many resources as possible in the development of the navy," Medvedev told Russian Pacific Fleet sailors on board a missile cruiser docked in Singapore.

"We have a rearmament program ... and this program will continue to grow," said the president, who attended a regional summit in the Asian city-state over the weekend.

Despite a significant increase in Russia's military budget in recent years, its fleet remains plagued by accidents.

On Friday, an arms depot run by the navy in the city of Ulyanovsk, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Moscow, caught fire, killing two people and forcing thousands to flee their homes.

Last year, 20 people died during a sea trial of a Russian submarine when a fire-extinguishing system was erroneously activated, releasing deadly chemical gases into the air.

Medvedev promised that military budgets would not be cut as a result of the global economic crisis, which has caused a sharp fall in Russian economic growth, putting pressure on the national budget.

"The influence of the crisis on the defense sphere will be minimal," Medvedev told the sailors.