Russian Defense Firms Risk Becoming ‘Oversized, Unneeded’ – Putin

MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that although the country’s defense sector was undergoing “unprecedented” expansion, such manufacturers risk becoming “oversized and unneeded” if state funding dries up.

Putin said in his annual state-of-the-nation address that the $700 billion set aside to modernize Russia’s weaponry would keep such manufacturers at full capacity until the program concludes in 2020.

After 2020, defense enterprises must ensure that they “can eventually switch to producing consumer products demanded on domestic and foreign markets,” he said.

Putin noted that the defense sector employs about 2 million people who are the breadwinners for about 7 million.

Commenting on the speech, a senior official who oversees the military-industrial complex said that Russia must not repeat the “fiasco” that occurred when revamping Soviet military industries to manufacture consumer products.

A plan needs to be in place for such enterprises to switch to producing consumer products, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters.

He said the enterprises should be able to “fill store shelves with modern televisions.”

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