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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anti-Satellite Weapons in the Works

Russia is working to develop anti-satellite weapons to match efforts by other nations, a deputy defense minister said Thursday.

General Valentin Popovkin said Russia continued to oppose a space arms race but would respond to moves made by other countries.

"We can't sit back and quietly watch others doing that; such work is being conducted in Russia," Popovkin said, local news agencies reported.

Russia already has some "basic, key elements" of such weapons, he said, without elaboration.

Popovkin, previously chief of the Space Forces, was speaking in response to a question about U.S. and Chinese tests of anti-satellite weapons at a news conference. In February 2008, a U.S. Navy ship launched a missile that hit a dying spy satellite. The test boosted the credibility of missile defense advocates. In 2007, China destroyed one of its own defunct satellites with a ballistic missile.

The Kremlin has criticized U.S. plans for space-based weapons, saying they could trigger a new arms race. Russia and China have pushed for an international agreement banning space weapons, but their proposals have been rejected by the United States.

Popovkin also said the government has budgeted 1.5 trillion rubles ($42 billion) for weapons purchases this year. He said a quarter of that sum will be spent on strategic nuclear forces. The military will use the money to put more than 10 new intercontinental ballistic missiles on line by the year's end, Popovkin said -- a much faster pace of deployment than in previous years.

Popovkin said the military also intends to complete tests of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile and put it into service by the year's end.

Popovkin said the Air Force will receive about 50 new planes and 50 military helicopters this year. The figure is significantly higher than the total number of combat aircraft commissioned by the military since the 1991 Soviet collapse. He also said a next-generation fighter jet is set to make its maiden flight in August.