Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, has ordered a large-scale rearmament of the country's military forces in response to Nato plans for expansion into former Soviet states.
At a meeting with top defence ministry officials in Moscow on Tuesday, Medvedev said "a large-scale rearmament of the army and navy will begin" from 2011, adding that new forces must have the most modern weapons.
The president said a modern army was needed to "tackle the most difficult problems, such as terrorism, and fend off potential military threats", stating that "attempts to expand the military infrastructure of Nato near the borders of our country are continuing".
Russia has described proposals by Nato to allow Ukraine and Georgia membership to the bloc, and plans by the US to deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe, as direct threats to its national security.
Medvedev said the top priority for modernisation would be upgrading Russia's nuclear weapons arsenal.
"The primary task is to increase the combat readiness of our forces. First of all, our strategic nuclear forces. They must be able to fulfil all the necessary tasks to ensure Russia's security," he said.
Russia would go ahead with the plans despite being hit hard by the economic crisis, Medvedev said.
"We now have all the necessary conditions for that [modernisation of armed forces] despite the current financial difficulties," he said.
Efforts to upgrade Russia's military have moved slowly in the past.
Weaknesses in Russian forces, such as shortages of precision weapons and modern communications, were apparent during its conflict with Georgia in August last year.
"That conflict has revealed our flaws,'' Medvedev said, adding that "problems linked with supply of certain weapons and means of communication require a quick action".
Source: Al Jazeera