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Putin reveals plan to expand Russia's navy with 40 new vessels

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Putin reveals plan to expand Russia's navy with 40 new vessels
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Russia will add new ships, vessels and weapons to its navy this year to demonstrate its growing power, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday.

He used a naval parade near St Petersburg marking the country's Navy Day celebrations to announce the modernisation, saying Russia needed a strong navy to defends its interests.

"The capability of our navy grows constantly," he said during the ceremony.

"This year 40 ships and vessels of different class will enter service, and several days ago six more vessels for the far-sea zone were laid down at Russia's three leading shipyards."

He also announced a range of hypersonic weapons that will be installed in some areas of the navy, which he said would boost their combat capabilities.

Modernising the military has become a growing priority for Putin in recent years as tensions with the West have risen over the past decade, in particular over Russia's annexation of Crimea and its intervention in the Syrian civil war.

The tradition to celebrate Navy Day on the last Sunday of July dates back to the Soviet era in Russia. It was abolished in 1980 but reinstated by Putin 17 years ago.

Sunday's parade in St Petersburg and the nearby town of Kronshtadt featured 46 ships and vessels and over 4,000 troops.

It was one of several ceremonies across the country and in other parts of the world to commemorate Russia's annual Navy Day.

Parades were also held in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, in Sevastopol in the annexed Crimea and in the Mediterranean port city of Tartus in Syria.

Putin said the ceremonies aimed to “demonstrate the growing power of our navy.”