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Putin On Strategic Balance, Military Spending And Deterrence

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Putin On Strategic Balance, Military Spending And Deterrence

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle launch platform. Click to see full-size image

Starting from February 26th, Russian state outlet TASS began publishing an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin titled “20 questions.”

The outlet releases videos each showcasing one question per day.

Putin has spoke about the aims of the new government, Ukraine, state projects and so on.

On March 2nd, the question and answer were regarding the budget of the Russian army, as well as the new arms race.

Notably, when asked who Russia planned to go to war with, since that’s presumably the reason to modernize the tanks and other equipment in the Russian army, Putin said the following:

“We are not going to war with anyone. We are going to create conditions so that no one thinks to fight with us …”

To which the interviewer said: “There is a concept of reasonable sufficiency!”

“Of course, there is a concept. This is precisely what we adhere to. Today, we are in seventh place in terms of costs. The US overtook us, [US President] Donald [Trump] told me, they have a crazy budget for the next year, 738, in my opinion, billions. So …”

And according to Putin, Trump didn’t brag about the number, he rather said it with regret. He said that the US president, in his own words is a supporter of disarmament, but he was “forced” to introduce such big expenses in the budget.

Then Putin spoke about arms control treaties, and specifically about the New START and that it should be extended.

“I think this [the contract falling apart] is actually a mistake.

START III Treaty must be extended. But this is a separate issue.

So, the United States is in first place in spending, China is in second place, in the third, oddly enough, Saudi Arabia, then Great Britain, then France, then Japan, Japan overtook us, then it’s us, in seventh place.

Moreover, our expenses are reduced from year to year. And the costs of other countries are growing. We are not going to fight with anyone, but we are creating such a situation in the field of defense that it would not occur to anyone to fight with us.

And now we have a unique situation now, I have recently said in the Ministry of Defense, this was not the case in the newest modern history of Russia, we have always caught up with our, well, conditionally, competitors in strategic weapons. At first, the Americans made the atomic bomb, we later caught up, the delivery vehicles in the form of strategic aviation were made by the Americans, we had to catch up.

They were the first to make missiles, we had to catch up. This is the first time we have created such systems of offensive weapons, that have no alternative in the world.

Now they are catching up with us. This is a generally unique situation; this has never happened before.

First of all, I mean, of course, hypersonic strike complexes, including intercontinental range.

In 2000, our army had a million and more than three hundred thousand people, now a million or more. The share of modernization in the armed forces was increasing by less than 1%, there were only 6% of modern technology. And now, you know, how much? Almost 70%.”

Then the interviewer made a rather fair point:

“Simply, as Comrade [Anton] Chekhov [Russian playwright and short-story writer] taught, if a hypersonic shotgun hangs on a wall, in the third act or in the second it should shoot.”

To which Putin responded that it mustn’t be like that:

“Eh, for the theater this is probably right.

For real life in the field of security, in the field of politics, a slightly different rule applies.

Do you know which one?

If that “shotgun” fires, it will be in the first act.

And if the same gun hangs on the wall the next stage, it is unlikely that the one who hangs it will allow it to be used again.

This is a situation called strategic stability and a balance of power.

Thanks to this strategic balance, the world restrained from major military conflicts after World War II.

It is thanks to this strategic stability and strategic balance.

By the way, by creating a missile defense system, the Americans wanted to upset this strategic stability and strategic balance, believing that if they create an anti-missile umbrella over themselves, then the other side will not be able to respond accordingly if they use nuclear weapons.

But by creating these modern complexes, including complexes that easily overcome any missile defense system, we maintain this strategic stability and strategic balance. It is fundamentally important not only for us, but also for international security.”

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