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    Russia boosts spending on Strategic Missile Forces' training

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    Annual spending on combat training in Russia's Strategic Missile Forces has increased five-fold since 2004, an SMF spokesman said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti) - Annual spending on combat training in Russia's Strategic Missile Forces has increased five-fold since 2004, an SMF spokesman said on Monday.

    The SMF Military Council held a meeting on Monday dedicated to the revision of financial and operational activities in 2007 and measures aimed at increasing the effectiveness of control over budget spending.

    "Compared with 2004-2006, spending on combat training, on the maintenance, operation and scheduled repairs of military hardware increased [in 2007] more than five-fold," Colonel Alexander Vovk quoted SMF commander Nikolai Solovtsov as saying.

    He said financing of the Strategic Missile Forces had fully stabilized in the past four years.

    The Russian leadership has already reaffirmed its commitment to building and maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent, while strongly criticizing the proposed deployment of the U.S. missile shield in Central Europe, and the eastward expansion of NATO.

    Solovtsov earlier said Russia was putting an average of three mobile and three or four fixed-site missile launching systems into operation every year, and that the SMF would double its test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles after 2009.

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