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    Russian defense spending to grow 20% in 2008, to $40 bln

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    Russia's Defense Ministry will spend around one trillion rubles ($40 bln) of federal budget funds in 2008, 20% more than in 2007, a ministry official said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry will spend around one trillion rubles ($40 bln) of federal budget funds in 2008, 20% more than in 2007, a ministry official said on Tuesday.

    "The Defense Ministry will spend a little less than one trillion rubles in 2008, which is about 20% more than last year," Deputy Defense Minister Lyubov Kudelina said.

    She also said that in 2008-10, military spending would account for 15.5-16% of aggregate federal budget expenditure.

    She said most of the funds would be spent on the maintenance of the armed forces, the procurement and repair of military hardware, scientific and research work, and construction.

    The official did not say how much would be spent this year on the procurement of new military hardware, but last year's figure was over 300 billion rubles ($12 billion), 20% higher than in 2006.

    Russia has downsized its Armed Forces to about 1.1 million personnel, but military spending has increased dramatically under President Putin. Defense spending is set to total 1.18 trillion rubles ($45 billion) by 2010.

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