Vladimir Putin isn’t taking the expansion of NATO and a planned missile shield lightly. The Russian president told his people: “It is already clear that a new phase in the arms race is unfolding in the world. … It is not our fault, because we did not start it.” Flush with oil money, Russia is planning to beef up and flaunt its military capabilities in response.


In his speech, to the State Council – Russia’s top politicians, officials and generals – he said other countries were spending far more than Russia on new weapons.

But Russia would always respond to the challenges of a new arms race by developing more hi-tech weaponry, he said.

Referring to Nato’s activities in Central and Eastern Europe, Mr Putin said “there are many discussions on these, but… we have still not seen any real steps towards finding a compromise”.

“In effect, we are forced to retaliate, to take corresponding decisions. Russia has, and always will have, responses to these new challenges,” he said.

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