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Rearmament Still on Track: Putin Says Defense Cut Won't Fall on Procurement

As military receives 100 new airplanes and 400 tanks and large guns, but navy waits in vain for its expected surface ships

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As we reported recently Russia slashed its 2016 defense budget 5%. This raised questions as to the fate of its ambitious military re-armament campaign that begun before the current fiscal and economic woes. However, Putin has now said that the slash will not fall on the procurement side of Ministry of Defense spending which will have to cut elsewhere:

The Russian military's arms modernization program won't be affected by budget cuts prompted by the country's economic problems, President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

<figcaption>Defense Minister must slash 5% overall but without touching new hardware</figcaption>
Defense Minister must slash 5% overall but without touching new hardware

Putin, who spoke at a meeting with the top military brass and leaders of arms industries, said the military last year received hundreds of new aircraft, missiles and armored vehicles as part of an ambitious weapons upgrade.

He noted that the new Russian weapons have proven their worth during Moscow's air campaign in Syria.

Putin said Russia's arms industries have significantly reduced their reliance on imports, but still remain dependent on some foreign-made components. He urged the industries to move more quickly to develop production of local substitutes.

The downside of this is that spending cuts will disproportionally affect personnel costs perhaps slowing down Russia's drive to attain more professional soldiers and rely less on conscripts serving short, 1-year terms. 

However, given that economy is in a recession that is far from certain. The military could still end up attracting the same number of enlisted men from the civilian sector which is likewise cutting back.

Additionally the Russian president said that in 2015 Russian armed forces received 96 new airplanes, 81 helicopters, 152 air defense systems, 291 radars, 21 ballistic missiles, over 400 armored vehicles and artillery systems and 2 submarines.

Impressive as these figures are they fell short of expectations as the arms industry failed to fulfill all orders on time:

Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told the meeting that arms plants have missed delivery schedules on 15 warplanes, eight navy ships and 240 armored vehicles among other weapons systems.

Borisov said that some of the delays were linked to subcontractors going out of business and missing technology.

He claimed that the Western ban on the sales of weapons and arms technologies to Russia and Ukraine's decision to halt military industrial cooperation with Russia "had no significant impact" on Russian arms production.

Particularly large and significant is the delaying of warships. The Russian navy missed out on no fewer than 8 surface ships. This is in large part because Russia's links to the old Soviet arms industry in Ukraine have been severed after Maidan so that it may no longer import Ukraine-made gas turbines for its ships but now has to rush to develop this capacity in Russia. 

Russia has previously predicted it will be able to mass produce such turbines by 2018. 

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