Russia's 2003 military budget to be increased?

The annual growth of the gross domestic product enables Russia to increase its military budget, said Andrei Nikolaev, chairman of the State Duma defense committee.

Late last week, the lower parliamentary chamber adopted an appeal to the federal leadership in view of the start of military operations in Iraq.

The Duma deputies call on the head of state for "undelayed measures to be taken to strengthen the defence capability of the Russian Federation and, prior to June 1, 2003, propose correcting the 2003 federal budget so as to increase defence spending by at least 3.5 percent of the GDP and channel additional sums into speeding up the modernisation of the Russian armed forces and equipping them with updated combat equipment".

If the president makes corresponding amendments in the 2003 national budget, Russia's defence sector will additionally get 120 billion rubles (approximately 4 billion dollars), believes Nikolaev.

Specifically, additional allocations should go into the strategic rocket troops, improvement and development of space systems, intelligence and the navy.