Putin urges military to destroy threats to forces in Syria

Amid beefed-up Russian presence in war-torn country, order seen as veiled threat at Turkey

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Friday vowed to further modernize Russian arsenals and said that its military in Syria will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them, a strong warning to Turkey following its shoot-down of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.

Speaking at a meeting with the top military brass, Putin named “strengthening of the combat potential of strategic nuclear forces and the implementation of space defense programs” as a key priority. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the military has received 35 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year and put forward equally ambitious weapons modernization plans for next year despite Russia’s economic downturn.

Without naming Turkey, Putin said the military should respond in full force to any “further provocations.” He said the Russian military base in Syria has been beefed up with additional aircraft and air defense weapons.

“I order you to act in the toughest way,” Putin said. “Any targets threatening the Russian groups of forces or our land infrastructure should be immediately destroyed.”

The downing of a Russian bomber by a Turkish fighter jet on Nov. 24, the first time a NATO member shot down a Russian plane in more than half a century, has badly strained relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Full article: Putin urges military to destroy threats to forces in Syria (The Times of Israel)

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