Russia will have to increase its missile arsenal to deter the West, diplomat says

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will have to increase its entire missile arsenal to deter the West as Moscow is now in an open confrontation with the United States and its allies, a Russian diplomat was quoted as saying on Monday.

President Vladimir Putin's 2022 invasion of Ukraine touched off the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, according to Russian and U.S. diplomats.

Russia has ramped up weapons production and is now forecast by the United States to manufacture this year more artillery than all of NATO's 32 members combined.

"We are now at the stage of open confrontation, which, I hope, will not result in a direct armed conflict," Russian Ambassador-at-Large Grigory Mashkov told the state RIA news agency.

Accordingly, Mashkov said, it will be necessary to take "further steps to strengthen the country's defense capability, including building up the missile arsenal, in order to discourage any potential enemy from testing Russia's strength."

Mashkov said Russia was already doing a lot in this area but that more was needed given what he said was the growing threat from the West and the technological advances in most types of missiles, from tactical to inter-continental.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia is set to spend 7.1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the military, or more than a third of total government spending, in 2024.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)