MOSCOW, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Russia will buy foreign and possibly U.S. arms because the domestic industry has failed to modernize, Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has said.
In an interview with Russian Newsweek, Serdyukov said Moscow was forced to buy from companies abroad as it plans to spend more than $600 billion to modernize its armed forces.
"Our weapons often do not meet the required standards," he said. "We are acting as consumers in this situation ... our producers want to issue outdated models but we don't want to buy them."
Serdyukov in the interview even suggested that Russia might buy weapons from its former Cold War enemy United States but didn't go into detail.
The Kremlin wants to completely overhaul the Russian armed forces. Moscow plans to radically cut the number of officers and overall troops to create a more modern and mobile force and has vowed to replace its Soviet-era equipment.
However, Russian officials are unhappy with the domestic industry and have in the past urged firms to step up their product portfolio and internal procedures to become more competitive.
It has to be noted, however, that Russia still is the world's second-largest arms exporter behind the United States, with Russian-made tanks and helicopters among the best-sold products -- albeit mainly to developing and emerging countries.
In a first sign that Russia is increasingly looking abroad for major weapons deals, Moscow is locked in negotiations with France over one or several Mistral class helicopter carriers, with the price tag for one vessel reportedly at $380 million.
"There are the same issues with the Mistral," Serdyukov said. "The Russian military-industrial complex does not meet our standards. Therefore, we are talking about buying imported ships."
However, the purchase, which would be the first major one from a NATO member, has been delayed by wrangling over the price tag and technology sharing.
The costly overhaul of the Russian military comes as forces in Europe face severe budget cuts because of the recession.
Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- Europe's largest armed forces -- are all planning to cut their defense budgets, with personnel as well as equipment affected. Large multi-national arms projects, for example the delayed and costly Airbus A400M military freighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon jet, a British scheme to build two large carriers and the multipurpose NH90 helicopter face the downsize.