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Putin vows to strengthen Russia's nuclear deterrence potential

(Xinhua)

16:32, February 20, 2012

MOSCOW, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Russian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin said Monday that his country should keep its nuclear deterrence potential to meet global challenges and ensure the country's strategic stability.

In his sixth pre-election manifesto, published on national daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Putin said Russia's national security can be guaranteed only if the country is really strong.

"We should not lead anyone to temptation by our weakness. That is why under no circumstances will we give up the strategic deterrence potential and we will strengthen it," Putin said.

The prime minister warned that economic and diplomatic ways are not enough to respond to the growth of conflicts near Russia's borders and that the country should learn to assess the nature of global threats 30 to 50 years in advance.

With regard to the disputed U.S.-led European missile defense shield, Putin warned that Russia's response to the deployment would be efficient and asymmetrical.

He stressed Russia's armed forces would be equipped with weapons and hardware that "will shoot more accurately and react faster than similar systems of any potential enemy."

"This will be a fully relevant response to the U.S. steps in the missile defense sphere ... The policy of the U.S. and NATO over the deployment of the missile defense system makes us take these actions," Putin said.

Russia will hold its presidential election on March 4, with five candidates vying for the top job. Putin is widely expected to win the election.

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