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Russia plans to expand its cooperation with NATO
Russia plans to expand its cooperation with NATO, but in a limited and cautious manner in light of certain areas of disagreement, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told Argumenty i Fakty. Many Western military and political leaders are still influenced by Cold War mentalities even though it is generally accepted that Russia, as the Soviet Union's successor, is no longer NATO's geopolitical adversary. Russia also no longer sees NATO as an enemy, as it did 20 years ago. NATO deployed temporary bases to the CIS, which it coordinated with Russia and was in Russian interest, in connection with the Afghan counter-terrorist operation. Ivanov noted that Russia no longer faces the threat of an all-out war, but the global situation is becoming more and more unpredictable. Top-grade mobile forces are the only way to defend such a huge country as Russia with a relatively small population. According to Ivanov, Russia also plans to develop its nuclear forces in a well-balanced manner. New Russian nuclear weapons are currently being developed, prioritizing standardized nuclear weapons. Russia has started testing the Bulava (Mace) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), an interchangeable version of the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The Soviet Union spent 70% of its defense budget on military-development programs during the 1980s. Another 30% was used to pay servicemen. These spending patterns drastically changed in the 1990s. Russia is slowly rectifying the situation. Moscow now spends 60 percent of its defense budget on the upkeep of Russia's Armed Forces. Military development gets the remaining 40%. Ivanov seeks a fifty-fifty balance by 2010. Ivanov said Russia plans to introduce 12-month conscription service beginning in 2008, with plans to recruit more professional soldiers. There will be 114,000 sergeants and soldiers serving on contract by 2008.
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