In a speech commemorating his country's victory in World War II, President Putin warned his people that the arms race with the U.S. is far from over.
"It is premature to speak of the end of the arms race. It is in reality rising to a new technological level," Putin declared.
He reminded the crowd that the U.S. spent 25 times more on defense than Russia, that without a major upgrade in spending and technology, they will be helpless.
"In the defence sphere, this is called 'their house is their fortress.' Well done! But it means that we must build our house strongly, reliably, because we see what's going on in the world," said Putin.
"In conditions of fierce international competition, the country's economic development must be based, essentially, on its scientific and technological advantages. Unfortunately, one has to face that the majority of the technical equipment used in the national economy is not years behind the top level, but decades."
Putin longs for the days when his proud nation held "super power" status. He views Russia as the world's best hope for stability and peace.
"Key responsibility for standing up against threats, for guaranteeing global stability, will lie with the world's leading powers possessing nuclear weapons and powerful military-political influence. That's why modernising the Russian army is extremely important now," he said.
But building up a world class military with state-of-the-art technology is going to be difficult without an amry's most basic resource, troops.
"The most serious problem in modern Russia is demography," he said, referring to Russia's shrinking population. Currently at 143 million, it's been dropping by about 700,000 annually of late.
at May 10, 2006
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