Russia's Putin defends budget priorities, including oil pipeline

Russia's Putin defends budget priorities, including oil pipeline Moscow - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin outlined a list of 2009 budget priorities to the Duma, the lower house of parliament Monday, including plans for the completion of an oil pipeline to China this spring.

The pipeline, made possible in the midst of a financial crisis thanks to a 25-billion-dollar loan from China, is supposed to deliver 15 million tons of oil a year, for a total of 300 million tons from 2010 through 2030.

Until now, Russia has only been able to export 9 million tons of oil a year to China via railroad. Russia has stated several times that it wants to find new markets for its oil aside from the European Union.

During his statement, Putin also defended plans to boost spending on defence, interior security and economic development over the last year. The move comes as income is supposed to drop by 40 per cent due to a fall in the price of raw materials.

"We have to do more than just hold on to our key industries," he said. "We have to speed up the move to innovative development."

The budget states that any shortfalls will be made up out of foreign currency reserves. (dpa)