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Russia: Modernization Of Armed Forces Includes New Missile

Moscow, 7 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia unveiled today a series of moves to modernize the country's armed forces. Defense Minister Igor Rodionov told a news conference in Moscow that the Russian military is planning to deploy this year a powerful intercontinental nuclear missile.

The new missile, already being tested, is to carry a single nuclear warhead and can be deployed in silos or on mobile launchers. Few details on its performance have been released.

At the same news conference, the head of Russia's Defense Council, Yuri Baturin, said Russia must undertake a reform of its armed forces. Otherwise, Baturin warned, "the navy will remain without warships, and the airforce without airplanes."

Baturin said that for the past few years, Russia's armed forces have only been receiving 60 percent of the minimum funds they require to maintain combat readiness.

He unveiled a three-step plan to reform Russia's military. In the first stage, Baturin proposed cutting troop numbers and equipment by the year 2000. In the second stage, to be put into effect by the year 2005, Baturin proposed increasing military funding for the remaining force and moving toward a professional army, instead of relying on conscripts. In the final stage, Baturin proposed a "massive" program to further modernize weapons technology.