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Russia defence spending to grow 27 pct in '09 - Putin

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures during an interview broadcast by German television station ARD in Sochi August 29, 2008. REUTERS/RIA-Novosti/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s defence spending will grow by 27 percent in 2009, Interfax news agency quoted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as saying on Tuesday.

“Nearly 2.4 trillion roubles ($94.12 billion) will be allocated for the needs of national defence and security (in 2009),” Interfax quoted Putin as saying. “This is an increase of 27 percent.”

In a brief war last month, Russia crushed an attempt by pro-Western neighbour Georgia to retake South Ossetia, a breakaway region closely tied to Moscow.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Putin have said the military operation, condemned by the West as disproportionate, has shown the armed forces needed a major modernisation of their weapons and hardware.

Putin made his announcement on the day when Russian stocks plunged more than 10 percent to two-year lows, driven by turmoil on international markets and domestic concerns including the war in Georgia.