- MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia must build dozens of missiles every year to modernize
its aging nuclear arsenal, a senior cabinet minister said Tuesday.
- First deputy prime minister Yuri Maslyukov
said Russia's strategic weapons, most of which were built during Soviet
times, are rapidly aging and will soon lose their combat capability.
- "In two or three years, we will
have to start taking them out of combat duty en masse," Maslyukov
said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.
- "In seven or eight years we will
be left without a single missile, submarine or bomber built during the
- Maslyukov, a Communist, had a successful
career in the Soviet military-industrial complex, rising to become the
last chairman of the Soviet central-planning agency, Gosplan. He's now
in charge of economic strategy for the new cabinet.
- "We mustn't delude ourselves by
the talk about strategic partnership with one or another country,"
Maslyukov said, indicating Russia should not be lulled into a false sense
of security because the Cold War is over.
- "The modern world is complex and
a military force still plays not the least part in it."
- Maslyukov pushed for ratification of
the START II arms-reduction agreement with the United States that has been
repeatedly delayed by other Communists and hard-liners in the Russian legislature.
Russia's military brass supports the treaty because the weapons it would
eliminate would become outdated anyway.
- Maslyukov linked the ratification with
progress on further arms cuts and speedier production of new weapons.
- "Along with rearming our strategic
forces, it's necessary to use diplomatic means to achieve a limitation
and reduction of the U.S. nuclear capability," he said.
- He added Russia must insist the United
States observe the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 as the "only
way to guarantee the mutual nuclear deterrence."
- Maslyukov said Russia must build 35-45
new Topol-M ballistic missiles every year starting in 2000 and build several
nuclear submarines of the Yuri Dolgoruky class, armed with ballistic missiles.
It must also modernize its control, early-warning and space-intelligence
systems, he said.
- His comments came as Russia's economy
is in disarray with rising inflation, a declining ruble and workers often
not paid for months.