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Russia announces plans for extensive short-range missile network


Moscow: Russia’s military announced plans Tuesday to set up an extensive network of short-range Iskander missiles throughout the country as part of a broader reform of the armed forces.

According to a report by the Itar-Tass agency, ground forces commanding General Vladimir Boldyrev said the Iskanders, with a range of 500 km, would be stationed in every defence district.

An exception from the restructuring would be the Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, located on Poland’s northern border.

After the US administration of President Barack Obama announced it was abandoning its missile shield programme in Central Europe, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Russia would not position any Iskander missiles close to Poland’s border.

Boldyrev said that all Russian reconnaissance battalions were to be equipped with unmanned spy planes. Moscow recently acquired 14 such drones from Israel for an estimated 37 million euros ($55 million).

The restructuring is part of a reform of the armed forces which Medvedev, as supreme commander, announced at the outset of the year in order to create a “strong, modern and professional” army.

Media reports in Moscow say there is resistance in the armed forces to the planned reforms, which among other things foresees slashing the number of officers by 160,000 by 2012.