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Putin vows to continue Russia's ambitious military modernization plan despite economic woes

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting with senior military officials at the Defense Ministry's control room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting with senior military officials at the Defense Ministry's control room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, stands with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, third right, and presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, left, and listens to an explanation in the Defense Ministry control room during a meeting with senior military officials in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, stands with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, third right, and presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, left, and listens to an explanation in the Defense Ministry control room during a meeting with senior military officials in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting with senior military officials at the Defense Ministry's control room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin heads a meeting with senior military officials at the Defense Ministry's control room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)  (The Associated Press)

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will continue its ambitious military modernization program with a particular emphasis on nuclear strategic forces.

Speaking at Friday's meeting with top military brass, Putin said the nation's nuclear forces are a "major factor in maintaining global balance," adding that "they effectively include a possibility of large-scale aggression against Russia."

Russia-West relations have plummeted to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis.

Putin said the military is set to receive 50 new intercontinental ballistic missiles — a significantly higher number than in previous years.

The huge military buildup is continuing despite Russia's economic woes triggered by a combination of Western sanctions and slumping prices of oil. The ruble collapse this week stoked up fears of high inflation and a banking crisis.