MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says Russia will continue its ambitious military modernization program with a particular emphasis on nuclear strategic forces.
Speaking at Friday's meeting with top military brass, Putin said the nation's nuclear forces are a "major factor in maintaining global balance," adding that "they effectively include a possibility of large-scale aggression against Russia."
Russia-West relations have plummeted to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis.
Putin said the military is set to receive 50 new intercontinental ballistic missiles — a significantly higher number than in previous years.
The huge military buildup is continuing despite Russia's economic woes triggered by a combination of Western sanctions and slumping prices of oil. The ruble collapse this week stoked up fears of high inflation and a banking crisis.