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Medvedev appoints Russia's NATO envoy as deputy premier (updated)

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Dec. 23, 2011, 3:43 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
© AP

Reuters

MOSCOW - President Dmitry Medvedev appointed a hawkish anti-Western diplomat on Friday to oversee Russia's defence sector, a rusting, inefficient industry beset by corruption scandals and failures to fulfil military contracts. Dmitry Rogozin, currently Russia's NATO ambassador, was named deputy prime minister as part of a government reshuffle ahead of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's expected return to the Kremlin next year.

Rogozin replaces Sergei Ivanov, a long-time Putin ally who took the post of Kremlin chief of staff this week.

"With your appointment, our defence industry will get an efficient manager, which is important because this sector has its well-known advantages, but also some major flaws," Medvedev told Rogozin at his residence in Gorki.

Rogozin is known for his tough anti-Western rhetoric throughout his political career as a parliamentary deputy and NATO envoy.

He responded by promising to govern the sector with an "iron fist" to eradicate corruption.

"Our motherland has allocated a lot of cash to our defence sector," he said. "I promise that every rouble, every kopeck will reach its destination."

TROUBLED INDUSTRY


Russia, the world's second biggest arms exporter, has pledged to spend 20 trillion roubles ($638.07 billion) in ten years to modernise its army, which still largely relies on Soviet-era technology as a result of systemic lack of financing.

But the country's defence sector has failed to fulfil obligations on state defence contracts, several industry critics said earlier this year. In July, Medvedev ordered Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to carry out a probe into alleged disruption of a 2011 procurement plan.

Russia's plans to rebuild its army have also been hampered by rampant corruption with a fifth of its annual defence budget stolen, the country's chief military prosecutor said this year.

The defence sector has come under fire from senior commanders for failing to produce weapons that meet modern combat standards, prompting Medvedev to threaten armed forces would buy foreign military equipment if its domestic industry is unable to satisfy its needs.

Russia signed a 1.2 billion euro ($1.57 billion) deal to acquire two French-made Mistral helicopter carriers earlier this year, which was the first major foreign arms purchase since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia's paramount leader Putin is widely expected to win the presidential elections in March, after he agreed on a job swap with Medvedev in September.
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