Russia launched a $650 billion rearmament plan Thursday to counter the West’s military dominance by adding eight nuclear submarines and hundreds of warplanes to its creaking armed forces.

Details of the long-flagged Kremlin procurement plan through 2020 see Russia acquiring a total of 20 submarines and more than 600 warplanes in place of a creaking fleet of outdated jets that have been losing international clients.

Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin said Russia would build a total of 100 new ships and acquire 1,000 additional helicopters — figures that would dramatically swell the number of modern and battle-ready craft.

“The main task is the modernisation of our armed forces. Nineteen trillion rubles ($653 billion) will be allocated for this,” news agencies quoted Popovkin as saying.

“We are not interested in purchasing any foreign weapons or military equipment,” he added.

The Kremlin has vowed repeatedly to boost spending on a dilapidated military whose 2009 exercises were scoffed at by the United States’ mission to NATO in cables published by the WikiLeaks website.

The US official said the war games showed that Russia was only capable of engaging in a small to mid-sized local conflict that did not require the engagement of more than one branch of the armed forces.

The assessment added that Russia “continues to rely on aging and obsolete equipment” and further suffers from a “manpower shortage”.

Source: Dmitry Zaks for AFP.

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