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Russian Defense Ministry announces military procurement plan

By Ryan Maass   |   Dec. 15, 2015 at 2:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The Russian Defense Ministry announced its future procurement plans, citing the expansion of radical extremism and what it calls "unfriendly" NATO policies.

Russia's military procurement plans include the purchase of roughly 200 planes and helicopters, up to 30 surface ships and submarines, and an additional 600 armored vehicles per year.

"The state program for armaments extending till 2021 will increase the share of modern weapons and military hardware to no less than 70 percent," General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister told Russian state-owned news agency TASS at a press briefing.

The announcement came as Russian Defense Ministry expressed concerns for growing militant terrorism, radical extremism, and increased NATO military activity.

"First of all, the ‪NATO‬ military policy, unfriendly towards Russia, is a matter of concern," The Russian Defense Ministry wrote on its Facebook page. "The alliance expands its military presence and enhances the activity of its armed forces along the borders of the Russian Federation."

The statement went on to claim NATO's military activity, including enhancing the activity of its armed forces along the Russian border and the deployment of missile defense and other military instruments, was offsetting the balance of power in the region.

NATO leadership has repeatedly criticized Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Western leaders say is an oppressive head of state. Russian defense officials, however, say their airstrike campaign and military assistance for Assad has bolstered cooperation between the Syrian government and the Free Syrian Army in joint operations against the Islamic State, a Sunni jihadist organization also identified as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

"The Russian Federation enhances the unifying of efforts of the governmental troops and formations of the Syrian opposition aimed at defeating the terrorists," the statement continued. "Now units of the Free Syrian Army, which is over 5 000 men strong, jointly with regular Syrian troops are conducting offensive operations in the ‪‎Homs‬, ‪Hama‬, ‪‎Aleppo‬, and ‪‎Raqqah‬ provinces."

Russia's latest military procurement announcement comes as tensions between Moscow and NATO leadership are at the highest since the end of the Cold War.

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