20 questions with Vladimir Putin. Putin on the army and the arms race

The army. Ok, and so? The armor is strong and our tanks are fast, right? Sure. Az okh un vey! [Yiddish expression] Oh well. Who are we going to fight against? We are not going to fight against anyone. We are going to create conditions so that nobody wants to fight against us. There is the notion of reasonable sufficiency. So that nobody will dare dream of… Of course, there is this notion. This is exactly what we adhere to. Today we rank seventh as far as arms spending goes. The US has outstripped us, Donald told me yesterday, they have adopted a huge budget for the next year, $738 billion budget, I think. Did he brag? No, he said this with regret. He said the costs were too high. But he had to do it. He actually advocated disarmament, as he said. Why then won’t he sign all those treaties? That is another question, this is the question which relates to the understanding of security and how to ensure it. We can discuss this topic. With him or with me? I can talk about that both with him and with you. I do not mind, I’m well-versed on this issue, I can discuss it with anyone. I think this is actually a mistake. The New START treaty should be extended. But this is another issue. So, the US is ranked first in expenditures, while China comes in second. Saudi Arabia, strangely enough, is ranked third, then comes Great Britain, France, and Japan. Japan has surpassed us as we come in seventh. Moreover, our annual expenditures are falling. In contrast, other countries’ [military] spending has been rising. And we are not going to fight against anybody, but we are creating such a situation in the defense sector so that nobody even dares to think about fighting us. And now there is a unique situation, I have recently spoken of it at the Ministry of Defense. This is a first for today’s Russia. We always had to catch up to our strategic weapons competitors. The first atomic bomb was developed by the Americans. We caught up with them. Then the first strategic aircraft to deliver these weapons were also made by the Americans. We caught up to them, again. The first missiles were developed by the Americans. We still caught up. For the first time, we have created such offensive strike systems which the world has never seen. Now they are chasing after us trying to catch up. This is a unique situation. This has never happened before. I mean, first of all, hypersonic offensive systems, including intercontinental range ones. In 2000, slightly over 1,300,000 people served in our army, now – a little more than a million. We increased the share of modern equipment by just 1 percent yearly back then. The share of modern equipment was only 6 percent. And now, do you know how much, do you know? It’s almost 70 [percent]. It’s just like Chekhov’s principle, if there is a hypersonic rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it will unquestionably go off. That may be true for the theater. In security and political reality another rule governs. Do you know which one? It will go off if it is hanging on one stage. And if a similar rifle is hanging on another stage, it is unlikely that the person near where it is hanging will take the liberty to use it. This is exactly the situation that is called strategic stability and the balance of power. Due to this strategic balance, the world has avoided major military conflicts after World War II. Precisely thanks to this strategic stability and strategic balance. By the way, while developing their anti-ballistic missile system, the Americans wanted to upset this strategic stability and balance thinking that if they created a missile defense umbrella, then the other side wouldn’t be able to respond adequately if they use nuclear weapons. However, after having developed these modern systems, including those which easily evade any anti-missile ballistic system, we maintain this strategic stability and strategic balance. It is essential not only for us, but also for global security.

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