Putin's remarks, to rows of uniformed officers and defense officials, reflected increasing hawkishness since he returned to the Kremlin for a six-year term last May, and a growing readiness to cite foreign threats and use anti-Western rhetoric to rally support.
"Attempts are being made to tip the strategic balance," said Putin, who as president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, told his audience at the General Staff academy on Moscow's outskirts. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, sat in the front row.
"Geopolitical dynamics call for a quick and considered response ... Russia's armed forces must move on to a new level of capabilities in the next three to five years," said Putin, who has not ruled out seeking another term in 2018.
The former KGB spy said moves that threatened Russia's geopolitical position included the eastward expansion of Russia's former Cold War foe NATO and U.S. deployment of an anti-missile shield in Europe.
He said drills must be sharpened up and held with less advance warning, to keep soldiers on their toes.
Putin did not mention the latest threat - the recent attack by forces, led by the famous (NATO?) General Winter - which shows that there is indeed an urgent need for new equipment and "sharpened drills" in the Russian army: