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    Defense spending to grow 16.3% in 2008 - finance minister

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    Russia's defense spending in 2008 will grow 16.3% on 2007, to 956 billion rubles ($36.8 billion), the finance minister said Thursday.

    MOSCOW, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense spending in 2008 will grow 16.3% on 2007, to 956 billion rubles ($36.8 billion), the finance minister said Thursday.

    Alexei Kudrin told a Cabinet session that the figures had been approved by the government's military-industrial commission.

    According to a draft federal budget for three years, defense spending will be 1.054 trillion ($40.5 billion) in 2009, and 1.184 trillion rubles ($45.5 billion) in 2010.

    "National security and law enforcement will require extra spending worth 105.2 billion rubles [$4 billion] in 2008, a 15.9% rise [from 2007]," Kudrin said, adding that the upward trend will remain in subsequent years.

    This budget item stands at 768.1 billion rubles ($29.5 billion) for 2008, as much as 922.6 billion rubles ($35.5 billion) for 2009, and 991.1 billion ($38.1 billion) for 2010.

    First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who heads the military-industrial commission, said spending on armaments program would hit 600 billion rubles ($23 billion) in 2010.

    Ivanov said planning the state order and armaments program for three years in the new-format three-year budget plan secured stability for major defense industry enterprises and holdings.

    However, he said that entailed the need to toughen up requirements to implement investment contracts in the defense industry.

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