Europe

Russia to rely increasingly on non-nuclear deterrent

Russia's defense minister says the development of the nation's nuclear forces will remain a top priority, but the military will rely increasingly on conventional weapons to deter any aggression.

Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that weapons, such as the long-range Kalibr cruise missiles carried by navy ships, long-range cruise missiles carried by Russian strategic bombers and the land-based short-range Iskander missiles will play an increasingly important role as a non-nuclear deterrent. They can carry nuclear or conventional warheads.

In remarks carried by Russian news agencies, Shoigu pointed to the new missiles' debut in the Syrian conflict, saying they have proven themselves well.

The post-Soviet economic meltdown left the Russian armed forces in disarray, but the Kremlin has beefed up the military's conventional forces in recent years amid tensions with the West.