Putin Backs Extension of Arms Procurement Program

MOSCOW, June 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to a proposal to extend parts of Russia’s ambitious arms procurement program beyond 2020.

Putin said in his annual budget address to the government on Thursday that defense industry firms must have the production capacity and technology needed to fulfill their contracts with the military, and use the funds allocated under the program efficiently.

If the companies are not ready to start efficiently fulfilling orders, “the Defense Ministry should come up with an initiative regarding a more rational timeframe for the allocation of these funds,” the president said.

Putin added that the overall budget for arms procurement will remain unchanged and the program must be implemented.

“We have adopted this program, it must be implemented, and implemented efficiently,” he said.

The Russian government has allocated 20 trillion rubles ($641 billion) for the comprehensive rearmament of Russia’s armed forces.

Russia’s 2011-2020 arms procurement program stipulates the upgrade of up to 11 percent of military equipment annually and will allow the country to increase the share of modern weaponry in the armed forces to 70 percent by 2020.

The Russian defense industry has been criticized recently for delays in the signing and fulfillment of military contracts, as well as for the inefficient use of state funds in the production of new weaponry.

The Finance Ministry has proposed extending the duration of the arms procurement program in “problem areas,” such as the delivery of combat ships and strategic submarines, beyond 2020.

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