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Russia rules out cuts to nuclear deterrent budget

MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia does not plan to cut budget spending on the development of the country's nuclear deterrent despite the ongoing economic crisis, the defense minister said.

The government has reviewed overall defense expenditures under the 2009-2011 federal budget, cutting spending on defense programs by 5.8 billion rubles ($177 mln) from 1.5 trillion rubles ($46 bln).

"Everything that relates to the nuclear deterrent, including R&D, prototypes, and especially modernization and existing procurement orders - all of that is a priority and will remain untouched," Anatoly Serdyukov told the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview published on Thursday.

According to Serdyukov, Russia will focus on the procurement and development of Topol-M mobile ballistic missile systems, the RS-24 ICBMs with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads, the sea-based Bulava ballistic missiles, and the Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarines.

President Dmitry Medvedev said last year that Russia would make the modernization of its nuclear deterrent and Armed Forces a priority in light of the recent military conflict with Georgia.

"A guaranteed nuclear deterrent system for various military and political circumstances must be provided by 2020," Medvedev said.