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DATE=1/27/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / WEAPONS (L-O) NUMBER=2-258490 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia will boost weapons spending by 50- percent this year in an attempt to restore its battered military might. Moscow Correspondent Peter Heinlein reports the country's space budget also is in for a big boost. TEXT: Acting President Vladimir Putin promised Russia's struggling military industry workers they will have more work this year -- as much as 50-percent more. With a war in Chechnya that experts say could drag on for years, more spending on weapons is to be expected. But Mr. Putin says the main objective of the military expenditures is to rebuild Russia into a world-class military power. He told reporters Chechnya played only a small part in the decision to boost spending. /// PUTIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// He says the problem is deeper than just Chechnya. He says his proposal is an attempt to correct the under- financing of the armed forces that took place for several years. Mr. Putin, whose popularity is largely based on his tough handling of the war in Chechnya, said the decline of the armed forces in recent years had called into question Russia's ability to maintain a modern, well-equipped army. Briefing reporters, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said the spending hike would allow modernization of existing equipment and development of new weapons systems. He said it could take as long as four years to produce heat-seeking missiles and night warfare weapons. Russian soldiers in Chechnya have complain they capture territory during the day, only to lose it at night to small bands of lightly-armed urban guerrilla fighters. Deputy Prime Minister Klebanov said Russia's space program also will get a large dose of cash, mostly to rebuild the network of spy satellites that has deteriorated during the past decade. /// KLEBANOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER /// He says Russia is to restore its space network, which today is in what he calls - pretty bad condition. Russia signaled its renewed emphasis on military power this month with an updated national security doctrine. The document lowers the threshold for using nuclear weapons to counter what it sees as a growing external military threat. The Kremlin's main concerns include NATO's eastward expansion, continuing instability among countries of the former Soviet Union, and what it sees as the weakened role of the United Nations. (SIGNED) NEB/PFH/JWH/RAE 27-Jan-2000 10:27 AM EDT (27-Jan-2000 1527 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .