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'Russia being pushed into a new arms race': Vladimir Putin says country will add more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal

Vladimir Putin has said Russia's military will receive 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of piercing any missile defences.

The statement is a blunt reminder of the nation's nuclear might amid tensions with the West.

Mr Putin spoke at the opening of an arms show at a shooting range in Alabino just west of Moscow, a huge display intended to showcase the nation's resurgent military might.

"This year, our nuclear forces are going to get more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of penetrating all existing, even the most advanced missile defenses,” the Russian president said.

He said the country would persist with a massive military rearmament program and modernisation of the defense industry.

Russia's deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov said his country was being "pushed into an arms race" by Nato.

Referring to US plans to put F-22 jets in eastern Europe Antonov said: "I believe the [US] statement must be looked at together with other similar statements, which have recently been numerous.

"A few days ago, reports started to turn up about certain [US] missiles put in a certain location and about certain ammunition depots in Eastern European countries and the Baltic."

He added: "It looks like our colleagues from Nato member states are pushing us into an arms race."

On Saturday the New York Times reported that the Pentagon "is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries.”

Polish defence minister Tomasz Siemoniak said on Sunday that he and US defence secretary Ash Carter had held talks about placing US heavy army equipment in Poland. Lithuania also said it was in talks with Washington to host US military equipment.

Moscow bristled at the plans, warning Washington that the deployment of new US weapons near Russian borders would foment dangerous instability in Europe.

"The United States is inciting tensions and carefully nurturing their European allies' anti-Russian phobias in order to use the current difficult situation for further expanding its military presence and influence in Europe," the Russian foreign ministry said in a comment late on Monday.

It added: "We hope that reason will prevail and it will be possible to save the situation in Europe from sliding toward a military stand-off which could entail dangerous consequences."

Speaking at the arms show, Mr Putin vowed to continue a big arms modernisation programme despite the nation's economic downturn.

He specifically mentioned the Armata tanks and other new armoured vehicles, which were first shown to the public during a Red Square military parade last month, saying they "have no analogues in the world".

Mr Putin also noted that the military was to start testing its new long-range early warning radar intended to monitor the western direction.

In February the US Air Force's European Command said it was sending A-10 Thunderbolts back to Europe. It announced the planes known as 'tankbusters' would be sent to bases in Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland, among others. A-10s, also known as Warthogs, have not been deployed to Europe since May 2013.


From Belfast Telegraph