17:36 GMT18 May 2021
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    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu addressed the Russian parliament’s upper house at the so-called "government hour" session on Wednesday and spoke about the development of the Armed Forces, defense expenditure, situation in Syria and investigation into the plane crash near the southern Russian resort city of Sochi.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Concerning the ongoing rearmament programs, Shoigu said that the implementation of the outlined plans would create a reliable barrier to the potential "enemy's prompt global strike" and ensure the non-nuclear deterrence of any high-tech aggressor.

    OVER 30,000 PIECES OF ADVANCED WEAPONRY IN 5 YEARS

    Shoigu said that since 2012, the Russian Armed Forces had received over 30,000 pieces of advanced and upgraded weaponry and munitions.

    “In total since 2012, the troops have received more than 30,000 units of new and modernized weapons and equipment, including more than 50 warships, 1,300 aircraft, 4,700 tanks and armored combat vehicles," Shoigu said.

    He compared these figures to the ones collected between 2007 and 2011, during which time only two warships, 151 aircraft and 217 tanks were received.

    The minister said that the Russian Aerospace Forces receive anywhere from 150 to 250 modern aircraft per year.

    “Deliveries of the T-50 advanced frontline aviation airborne complex [are scheduled] for 2019, and in 2020 the S-500 air defense system will increase the efficiency of the fight against modern means of air and space attack,” Shoigu said.

    The defense minister also noted that nine strategic submarines reinforced Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, allowing for the permanent patrol of the world's oceans. Meanwhile, the Russian Navy is planning to increase the number of strategic nuclear submarines to 13.

    “In order to improve the effectiveness of management, coastal troops are transitioning to the organizational structure of the army corps. Four army corps have already been formed in the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets,” Shoigu said adding that he estimated the fleet's share of modern arms at 47 percent.

    MILITARY EXPENDITURE, POLITICAL BALANCE

    Russia spends 11 times and one-third less than the United States and China on defense spending, respectively, according to Shoigu.

    “Our defense spending is 11 times less than in the United States, and one-third in comparison with China,” Shoigu said.

    The defense minister estimated the average upkeep of one US soldier at $510,000, one Chinese solider at $170,000, and one Russian solider at $54,000.

    From his point of view, Shoigu said that Russia managed to achieve the political balance with NATO, despite such a difference in the military budgets,

    SITUATION IN SYRIA

    Shoigu informed the Russian senators about Chief of General Staff Gen. of the Army Valery Gerasimov’s recent visit to Syria. Following his trip, Gerasimov said that the situation in Damascus had improved after the de-escalation zones memorandum was adopted at the latest round of Astana talks on Syrian settlement.

    According to Shoigu, Russia expects to consolidate provisions on security corridors at the newly established Syrian de-escalation zones in Astana next month. He also expressed the hope that issues and mechanisms for adopting Syria's future constitution would be discussed at the next round of talks.

    The defense minister pointed out that Russia was aware of which terrorist groups in Syria possess chemical weapons.

    "When there is information that Daesh, Jabhat Nusra [terrorist groups banned in Russia] have components of chemical weapons, we know specifically where and specifically who," Shoigu said.

    Speaking about the allegations that the Syrian government could use chemical weapons, he said "we are absolutely convinced today that most of the video footage and reports [accusing Damascus] are staged."

    The minister added that Russia maintained round-the-clock contact with the United States on the situation in Syria.

    "In total, with the mediation of the Russian military during the operation, over 105 settlements and 17,000 [square] kilometers [more than 6,500 square miles] of territory were returned to the control of the Syrian government. This has allowed more than 108,000 refugees to return to their permanent places of residence this year alone," Shoigu said.

    CAUSE OF TU-154 PLANE CRASH 99% CLEAR

    Shoigu also spoke about the investigation into the Tu-154 plane crash near Sochi in December 2016.

    “There is a 99-percent certainty that we have the version of the causes of this catastrophe. But this remaining 1 percent is, after all, is required to be absolutely confident and honest in front of everyone … I think that in the near future we will probably receive the latest data and announce the final version,” the minister said.

    On December 25, 2016, the Russian Defense Ministry's Tu-154 plane, which was heading from Moscow to Syria, crashed shortly after refueling and take-offing from the Russian southern city of Adler, near Sochi.

    None of the plane's 92 passengers survived the crash. The victims included eight crew members, 64 musicians of the Alexandrov Ensemble, nine reporters, head of Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity Elizaveta Glinka, and two federal civil servants.

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    Tags:
    T-50, development, military, crash, Tu-154, Daesh, Al-Nusra Front, Syria, Russia
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