Russia’s ruling party seeks Putin’s ‘ultimate victory’ at 2018 election

MOSCOW: Russia’s ruling party United Russia wants the “ultimate victory” of President Vladimir Putin at the presidential election in March 2018, party head and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday.

Medvedev told an annual gathering of United Russia that the party would give Putin “all possible support” now and in the future.

Putin is widely expected to win the 2018 election and secure his fourth six-year stint as president.

Meanwhile, Putin said on Friday that Russia should have the best armed forces in face of the “aggressive” plans of the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

“Russia should be among the leading states, and in some areas — the absolute leader in building the army of a new generation, the army of the new technological era,” Putin said at a meeting of senior Defence Ministry officials, Xinhua reported.

“This is of utmost importance for ensuring our sovereignty, peace and security of our citizens, for a confident development of the country and for an open and independent foreign policy in the interests of our country,” he said.

He called the new security strategy recently outlined by the US Administration “offensive” and “aggressive”, saying that the Russian military should take this into account in their practical work.

He said that although Russian nuclear forces had a level that provided “reliable strategic deterrence”, they should be developed further.

By 2021, the Russian ground-based nuclear forces should be 90 per cent equipped with new missile systems that can confidently overcome existing and prospective missile defence systems, Putin said.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said at the meeting that the budget of Russia’s defence spending in 2018 will amount to $46 billion (Dh169 billion), 2.8 per cent of its gross domestic product.

Russia’s military spending in 2017 was set at 3.05 trillion roubles ($52 billion), equalling 3.3 per cent of the GDP, according to the 2017 federal budget.

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