PUTIN: RUSSIA'S MILITARY IS STRONGER THAN ANY POTENTIAL FOE


DATE: 22/12/2016
AUTHOR: NATALIYA VASILYEVA
SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS


MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's military today can overpower any potential foe but should strengthen its nuclear arsenal, President Vladimir Putin told an annual end-of-year meeting Thursday with defense chiefs.

"We can say with certainty: We are stronger now than any potential aggressor," he told the meeting. "Anyone!"

His comments come at the end of a year when tensions between Russia and the West have remained on edge over the civil war in Syria.

Tensions between Russia and the West have been souring ever since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and surreptitious support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Relations dipped further after Russia last year launched an air offensive in Syria to support President Bashar Assad.

Both Russia and NATO members have conducted a flurry of military drills near Russia's borders this year. Russia insists it is responding to a growing NATO threat.

Speaking at the defense ministry's headquarters in Moscow, Putin said Russia should be swift in "adjusting plans to neutralize potential threats to our country."

He said strengthening Russia's nuclear capability should be a chief objective for 2017.

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