MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin oversaw Russian military exercises on Monday and warned soldiers that more conflicts around the world meant they had to "keep their powder dry" and improve Russia's defenses.
Speaking to soldiers at maneuvers in the Caucasus Mountain region on the country's southern border, near where Russian troops invaded neighboring Georgia in a five-day 2008 war, Putin said the use of military force was rising worldwide.
"You are all educated people, you see what is happening in the world. You see unfortunately that the use of force is increasing in international affairs," Putin said. "That all speaks to the fact that we should keep our powder dry and that Russia's defenses must improve."
Putin, 59, has been the primary force behind plans to revamp Russia's fighting forces, injecting the defense budget with 23 trillion rubles ($751.97 billion) over the next decade, at a time when Western counterparts are tightening their belts.