Russia will not postpone the implementation of its ambitious rearmament program for three years, but may make some adjustments to curb the budget deficit, Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov said on Monday.
Russia's Vedomosti business daily earlier said the government is considering shifting the implementation of the 2013-2020 program to 2016-2023.
“We are not discussing the postponement of the entire program for three years, as it is impossible,” Belousov told Russian lawmakers.
He said that defense industry firms have already begun preparing for the implementation of the program by taking loans and purchasing equipment within the limits of the whopping 20-trillion ruble budget (over $680 bln).
Belousov added that the timetable and the money allocation for some parts of the program could be tweaked in line with the priorities.
The rearmament of the Russian Armed Forces, along with the high-tech innovation of the Russian industry, is a pet project of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who announced the ambitious plans to drastically modernize the army in 2010 while he was serving as president.
The Russian military is expecting the share of modern weaponry in the Russian Armed Forces to reach 30% by 2015, and total 70% by 2020.
The Russian Finance Ministry, however, has always been opposed to the idea, saying that exorbitant defense expenses would overburden the state budget and ultimately lead to deep deficits.
Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin lost his post last year after openly disagreeing with Medvedev on economic policies, especially on defense expenditures.