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    Russia to buy 17 ICBMs in 2007 - minister

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    Russia will buy 17 intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2007, the defense minister said Thursday.

    MOSCOW, November 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will buy 17 intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2007, the defense minister said Thursday.

    Sergei Ivanov's words were in line with President Vladimir Putin's statement that Russia's armed forces must maintain a strategic balance to guarantee their ability to neutralize any potential aggressor.

    "Maintaining a strategic balance will mean that our strategic deterrent forces should be able to guarantee the neutralization of any potential aggressor, no matter what modern weapons systems he possesses," Putin told top military officials.

    He said Russia has enough, though not unlimited, funds to maintain a modern nuclear deterrent, as well as general-purpose forces without which the country would not be able to cope with local conflicts effectively.

    He called for the creation of cutting-edge strategic weapons, emphasizing their quality.

    "We must meet schedules to create new strategic weapons to secure a balance of forces in the world. This means that we will not indulge in comparing the quantitative data of our strategic nuclear deterrent forces as we used to do earlier, although it is not senseless," Putin said.

    "It is not the quantity but the quality of warheads that matters," he added.

    As of January 1, Russia possessed 927 nuclear delivery vehicles and 4,279 nuclear warheads for strategic offensive weapons, Nikolai Artyukhin, head of the Defense Ministry's department for contract compliance control, said earlier.

    Over $11 billion will be allocated from the federal budget for the acquisition of modernized equipment for the armed forces in 2007.

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