Russia is aggressively modernizing its military as tensions with NATO continue to escalate. It is developing state-of-the-art military hardware from Armata main battle tanks to Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter jets to intercontinental ballistic missiles. Moscow aims to spend $400 billion over the next five years to modernize its armed forces.

Russia: Putin Vows To Further Strengthen Armed Forces

Russia spent $29 billion on buying military hardware this year

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the country will further strengthen its armed forces. Putin said at a ceremony appointing senior officers that his top priorities were the greater intensity and better quality of combat training, and the introduction of advanced control systems. He hailed Russian army and navy as “reliable safeguards” of the country’s sovereignty, reports TASS news agency. Putin said a strong Russia would ensure global and regional security.

He told the newly appointed senior officers that Russian military held more than 3,000 exercises last year. Russian defense manufacturers have already fulfilled the state defense orders for the year 2015. Russia spent 1.8 trillion roubles ($29 billion) on defense procurement in 2015, up from 1.6 trillion roubles ($25.71 billion) last year. Lt. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev of the National Defense Management Center said Monday that more than 17,000 military equipment have been delivered to the armed forces and over 3,000 new contracts were signed.

Russia may allow petty criminals to choose military service

After backing separatists in eastern Ukraine, Russia has launched airstrikes in Syria. It is targeting both ISIS and CIA-trained rebels to protect President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Moscow has also stepped up military presence in the resource-rich Arctic region. Russia is actively using Syria as a testing ground for its weapons. It has deployed aircraft and missiles that have never been tested in a real war in Syria.

Meanwhile, a Russian lawmaker has put together a draft law that would allow men of conscription age convicted for non-violent crimes to enter military service instead of serving a prison term. Lawmaker Aleksey Didenko said the move would help address the shortage of places in crowded prison camps. And it will make the correction of first-time offenders “more humane.”