The defense minister of Russia, Mr. Sergei Ivanov said, "We are drawing military and political conclusions (from the Iraq war)". A week after the US-British forces attacked Iraq, Russia held its war games in the Caucasus Mountains, the largest in the past ten years. Simultaneously, its mobile nuclear forces held exercises that included the test firing of intercontinental missile. The navy began its most massive deployment in the Indian Ocean since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The unprecedented activity of the Defense Ministry points to "Moscow's deep concern over the crisis in Iraq", a Moscow-based daily said. The military sees the US-led war in Iraq as a potential threat to Russian security, pointing to growing US military presence in the former Soviet Republics, and resumed flights of American U-2 spy planes along the borders. The Air Force Commander, Mr. Alexander Mikhailov, went as far as to warn the Americans that Russia would shoot down any spy plane that intruded "as little as one kilometer" inside its airspace.
At the height of the military campaign in Iraq, the Russian President, Mr. Vladimir Putin paid a much publicized visit to the Russian space forces command center, while the defense minister, Mr. Sergei Ivanov, visited a top-secret nuclear weapons facility. Mr. Putin said plans for the buildup of space-borne forces based on "new generations of space technology" were being carried out "in full scope." Defense experts expect Russia to step up the deployment of the latest Topol M long-range nuclear missiles and the fourth generation plus anti-missile system, Triumph.
Analysts said, Russia needed to urgently upgrade its nuclear and missile shield to protect itself against the likely nuclearization of countries like North Korea, which think that the acquisition of nuclear arms as the only guarantee against US military intervention. The defense committee of the Russian Parliament's Lower House has called for increasing the defense budget by 70% from 353 billion rubles (USD 11.5 billion) to 600 billion rubles (USD 19 billion) next year. The Russian government is speeding up the military reform. Mr. Putin has approved plans to switch the core of the armed forces to volunteer over the next four years.
To confirm its latest anti-US mindset, authorities have planned to reintroduce basic military training in Russian schools, which was stopped in the early 1990s at the height of the country's romance with the west. It denounces the US-Georgia pact: A defense pact concluded between the US and Georgia, a former Soviet Republic in the Caucasus, has been denounced in the Parliament as unfriendly and threatening to Russia's security. The Russian Parliament said that the accord "is aimed at further buildup of American military presence in Trans-Caucasus" and warned that this "ran counter to the spirit of a treaty of friendship, good-neighborhood, cooperation, and mutual security that Russia and Georgia are working on." Lawmakers voiced concern that the US-Georgia defense pact could pave the way to "the use of US armed forces in Georgia for resolving by force the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia."