Moscow, Jan 31 (IANS) Russia’s top general said Friday that the country will take steps to prevent the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from being militarily superior.
“The armed forces’ priority is quality improvement of the strategic nuclear forces,” the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, said, according to a Xinhua report.
“Keeping the strategic nuclear forces in the condition of high combat readiness, as well as quality improvement in the combat potential of (the) regular troops, will prevent the military superiority of the United States (US) and NATO over Russia,” noted the general.
“This year, four missile regiments are planned to be established and equipped with modern missile complexes within the strategic missile troops,” Gerasimov said.
He went on to say that the increasing number of US anti-missile defence systems in the Asia-Pacific region was forcing Russia to take measures in response.
“The American anti-missile defence system has a global character, while the US and its allies are increasing the elements of this system in the Asia-Pacific region,” which are in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), RIA Novosti quoted Gerasimov as saying.
“We cannot remain indifferent to the actions of (the) Western countries and are forced to take responsive measures,” Gerasimov said, according to the Xinhua report.
Gerasimov’s statement was echoed by Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, who reiterated earlier in the day that Russian military would begin working on the task set by President Vladimir Putin to guarantee military superiority by completing the state weapons programme.
According to the general, a defence plan for 2016-2020 would be elaborated and presented to Putin for approval in December.
The plan would focus on maintaining the country’s military power and addressing new threats with the help of other ministries and government agencies, Gerasimov added.
US Deputy Secretary of Defence, Robert Work, Wednesday claimed that the US needs new military and defence plans and projects to ensure a decisively competitive advantage against potential foes.
Meanwhile Wednesday, two Russian fighter jets, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, flying over the English Channel, near the British airspace, caused anxiety in Britain and “caused disruption to civil aviation”, according to media reports.
Two British Royal Airforce jets intercepted the Russian bombers, south of Bournemouth, over the English Channel, a British defence spokesman said Thursday, according to CNN.
Britain summoned the Russian ambassador to Britain Thursday to explain the incident.
Wednesday’s incident was the latest in what NATO said was an increase in Russian military flights near alliance members’ territories.
In November, NATO said that its members’ jets were scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 to intercept Russian military flights close to the members’ territories — a 50% increase over the previous year.
“Russian aircraft manoeuvres yesterday (Wednesday) are part of (an) increasing pattern of out-of-area operations by Russian aircraft,” the British foreign office said.