(Adds quotes, details)
SOCHI Russia May 14 President Vladimir Putin
said on Wednesday Russia's defence industry should stop relying
on foreign components and become self-sufficient following
Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
"We need to do our utmost for anything used in our defence
sector to be produced on our territory, so that we are not
dependent on anyone...," he told a meeting of defence officials
at his Black Sea residence.
"I am sure that our defence industry will benefit from that
and one needs to adjust our scientific hubs for that," he said.
Washington has threatened to target some high tech exports
to Russia as part of sanctions, in addition to visa bans and
asset freezes that are already in place.
Putin has said previously that replacing the components used
in the defence industry would require funding and that it would
take up to 2-1/2 years to switch to entirely domestic
Russia is the world's second largest arms exporter. It sold
more than $15.7 worth of weapons in 2013 and its defence
industry has close ties with Ukraine.
Contacts between the two former Soviet republics have been
affected by Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and
Western charges that it is orchestrating pro-Russian separatists
in the east of the country, close to the border with Russia.
Moscow denies the accusations.
The crisis has led to the worst East-West standoff since the
Cold War, with Washington and Brussels threatening new sanctions
on Russia if it attempts to disrupt a presidential election due
in Ukraine on May 25.
(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin, Writing by Alexei Anishchuk,
Editing by Timothy Heritage)