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World: U.S. Has Strongest Military; Russia Declining

London, 9 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The United States is still the strongest military power in the world, while Russia's armed forces continue to weaken, according to a new survey.

The news comes from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, which today released its annual report on the state of the world's military.

Russia's spending on arms has dropped 45 percent since 1992 to around $82 billion -- second only to the United States. But the report predicted the decline in Russia's armed forces "seems set to continue." It said the 20-month conflict in Chechnya shows how ill-prepared Russian forces are.

In contrast, it said the United States is pushing ahead with plans that will allow its forces to fight two major regional conflicts at the same time, if necessary.

The report said the warming of East-West relations in the 1980s, followed by the end of the Cold War, led to major cuts in defense spending and to a decline in world arms sales. But the institute indicated that the big declines appear to be ending.

It said after a sharp decline in conventional arms sales between 1990 and 1992, sales are now averaging about $30 billion dollars worldwide. The report said three quarters of the decline in arms sales has come from the former Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, the United States has become the world's dominant seller of arms, supplying over half the market and exporting weapons worth over $15 billion.