updated 2/18/2004 9:27:23 AM ET 2004-02-18T14:27:23

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the Russian military would soon receive next-generation strategic weapons and might develop its own missile defense.

Putin spoke after watching the launch of a military satellite from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, which was part of a massive exercise of the nation's strategic forces. He traveled to the launch pad after watching naval exercises in the Barents Sea from a nuclear submarine.

"The experiments conducted during these maneuvers, the experiments that were completed successfully, have proven that state-of-the art technical complexes will enter service with the Russian Strategic Missile Forces in the near future," Putin said in remarks broadcast by Russian television stations.

The new weapons will be "capable of hitting targets continents away with hypersonic speed, high precision and the ability of wide maneuver," Putin said, adding that the new weapons would allow the armed forces to "reliably ensure Russia's strategic security for a long historical perspective."

Putin wouldn't elaborate on the prospective weapons, but said that their development wasn't aimed against the United States. He said that he had informed President Bush about Russia's latest military achievements, and added that the Russian military would provide more information to its American counterparts.

Putin also said that Russia would continue research work in defenses against ballistic missiles and might build a missile shield in the future, the Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies reported.

The massive military exercise that Putin attended was described as the largest in more than two decades, but it was marred by two failed launches of ballistic missiles from Northern Fleet submarines on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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