Russia signs off 2011 arms procurement deals

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said he has signed all deals under an ambitious weapons procurement program except for one, following official criticism that the military was falling short of its annual plan.

“The signings took place yesterday and the day before, there’s only the contract with the United Shipbuilding Corporation that’s left,” Serdyukov told reporters on Thursday.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had instructed the ministry to conclude all deals under the procurement program for 2011 by September. The ministry has been criticized by the Kremlin for making slow progress on the program.

Alexander Sukhorukov, the former head of the Russian arms procurement service Rosoboronzakaz, was appointed deputy defense minister by President Dmitry Medvedev earlier on Thursday.

Sukhorukov will be overseeing an $730-billion procurement program through 2020.

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