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    Second Topol-M ICBM battalion to go on combat duty by year-end -1

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    A second missile battalion, equipped with advanced Topol-M (SS-27) road-mobile ICBMs, will be put on combat duty before the end of the year, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces command said Wednesday.

    (Adds details, background in paragraphs 2-10)

    TEIKOVO (Ivanovo Region), August 22 (RIA Novosti) - A second missile battalion, equipped with advanced Topol-M (SS-27) road-mobile ICBMs, will be put on combat duty before the end of the year, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces command said Wednesday.

    SMF commander Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said earlier the deployment of silo-based Topol-M systems in the Saratov Region and road-mobile systems in the Ivanovo Region (central Russia) would be completed in 2010.

    As of December 2006, the Strategic Missile Forces operated 44 silo-based and three mobile missile systems.

    The commander said the Topol-M system will be equipped with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, adding the new system would help penetrate missile defenses more effectively.

    His statement came against the backdrop of growing tensions between Moscow and the West regarding plans by the United States to deploy elements of its global antiballistic missile defense system in Central Europe.

    Gen. Solovtsov said the Strategic Missile Forces would factor in the new threats.

    "If the U.S. proceeds with missile defense plans, despite serious opposition from people in Europe, the Strategic Missile Forces will manage to take adequate measures to counter threats to Russia," he said.

    But a top Russian military official said Russia's mid-term military development program would not be reviewed, despite U.S. missile plans.

    "The Armed Forces development plan through 2010 was approved by the Russian president. It is being implemented and will not be amended," said Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces.

    He said the plan could only be revised if drastic changes occur globally.

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