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USSR ups arms budget 12%; cooler ties with West cited

The Kremlin announced Tuesday a surprise 12 percent increase in defense spending for 1985, a rise Western diplomats attributed to deteriorating East-West relations and mounting US military budgets.

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The announcement was made at the opening session of the nominal Soviet parliament, where Mikhail Gorbachev, who has made only one public appearance in the past few weeks, sat close to President Chernenko, dampening speculation that he could have fallen into political disfavor. Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov, who has not been seen in public since September, was absent and is thought to be seriously ill.

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