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    PUTIN ATTENDS WAR GAMES IN NORTHERN RUSSIA: SUMMARY

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    PLESETSK launching site (Arkhangelsk region), February 18th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - "Russia should have an up-to-date military potential," Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference at the Plesetsk launching site.

    The president watched the launch of the Molnia missile carrier from the Plesetsk launching site (in the north of European Russia) and the launch of an RS-18 missile via monitor from the Baikonur state testing ground. The president arrived in Plesetsk on Tuesday night from Severomorsk where he watched Northern Fleet exercises in the Barents Sea from the Arkhangelsk nuclear submarine.

    The head of state did not rule out the possibility of developing the Russian anti-ballistic missile system.

    "The work to create an ABM system has been under way for several dozen years. At some point, we might switch over to practical efforts to build new [anti-ballistic missile] systems," he said.

    According to Putin, these efforts are based on the principles of military efficiency and the least economic expenditures.

    "We will see how the work will proceed in other countries, but will not suspend our efforts," said Putin.

    The Russian president said that the Russian missile force would soon have the most advanced technological complexes, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    According to the president, the experiments that were held as part of these strategic war games were successful, which testifies to the fact that the Russian strategic missile force will soon have the most advanced technological complexes.

    They can "hit targets at an intercontinental depth," "with a hypersonic speed, high precision and the opportunity of deep manoeuvre in terms of height and course," said the Russian leader.

    In his words, no other country in the world has such systems.

    This gives ample ground to affirm that Russia will have a reliable strategic security in a long historical term, said Putin.

    The president noted that Russia should make a breakthrough to obtain the weapons and equipment of the new generation.

    Vladimir Putin said he personally controlled the situation in the Russian Navy, Strategic Missile Force and Space Force.

    The head of state continued that during his previous visit to Plesetsk, it was only nominally referred to as a launching site, for military launches were only rarely conducted there.

    Huge amounts of work have been done in the past 3-3.5 years to turn Plesetsk into a real launching site, said Putin.

    "The Russian army is becoming stronger d and modernised not for any aggressive moves, but for defending its citizens and national interests," said Putin.

    He also noted that Russia had no imperial or hegemonic ambitions.

    "Russia has its own national interests, and we will uphold them in both legal and economic terms with the help of advanced technologies," said the president.

    According to the head of state, Russia is responsible for nuclear security along with its partners on the nuclear club. "At the same time, we should have an up-to-date military potential," said Putin.

    "Russia is going to ensure its security, and we will achieve this goal in an optimal and effective way in military and economic terms," said the Russian leader.

    He emphasised that the development of new types of weapons and the upgrading of available weapons in Russia was not spearheaded against any other country, including the United States.

    "We will do everything it takes to turn our former adversaries into our partners, and our partners into allies," the Russian president said at a press conference on Wednesday.

    "We are working constructively with the United States. Our relations have become more trustful. We are interested in broader co-operation. But we reserve the right to modernise the national armed forces in the interests of our security," said Putin.

    The Russian president added that he had informed his US counterpart about strategic exercises that took place in Russia.

    "We spoke on the phone two days ago. Our military experts will convey the relevant information to their colleagues in the amount corresponding to the level of our partnership," said the Russian president.

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