World Bulletin / News Desk
The country's defence spending will be watched closely this year, mainly in view of events in Ukraine, with Western nations accusing Moscow of providing weapons and soldiers to a separatist revolt in the country's east. Russiadenies it has troops in eastern Ukraine.
Last month, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said there should be a 10 percent cut across all sectors of government spending except for defence, which was considered ring-fenced by President Vladimir Putin.
However, even favoured "power ministries" are beginning to feel the pressure of Russia's economic crisis and Sergei Chemezov -- a key ally of Putin and among those targeted by Western sanctions over Ukraine -- indicated on Monday that cuts could even impact the military.
"It could shrink a bit, within 10 percent, but a decision is not yet made," Chemezov told a news conference on the sidelines of a defence conference in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Having argued in September that Western-imposed sanctions would not impact Russia's defence industry, Chemezov admitted changes were having to be made in response.
"Sanctions have given us a kick to produce our own (equipment)," said Chemezov. "Before sanctions we procured from Ukraine, which has many defence plants and factories. By 2017, we plan to substitute all our imports."
In the absence of high oil prices, which have slumped since hitting their peak in June, defence equipment would be a useful source of hard currency for the Russian authorities, and Chemezov said the current strong dollar was beneficial for its arms exports.
It is expecting to have recorded sales of 1.3 trillion roubles ($20.2 billion) in 2014, up from 1.04 trillion roubles in 2013, Chemezov said, adding results would be released in March.