Russia’s defense spending grows to third largest in the world
Russia has overtaken both Britain and France to become the world’s third-largest defense spender, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute announced in a report on Tuesday.
Russia’s defense spending increased by 9.3 percent in 2011 to reach a total of $71.9 billion, or 3.9 percent of the nation’s GDP, the institute reported.
Big spenders cut budgets
Six of the world’s biggest military spenders – Brazil, France, Germany, India, Britain and the United States – all cut their arms budgets. The United States cut their expenditures for the first time since 1998, bring down defense spending by 1.2 percent to $711 billion (4.7 percent of the U.S. GDP) – nearly 10 times Russia’s budget. The analysts put the reduced spending down to the need for deficit reduction among the big defense spenders. China’s defense budget, however, increased by 6.7 percent to reach double that of Russia’s at $143 billion, although it was only estimated at 2 percent of the nation’s GDP.
Replacing Soviet-era equipment
The institute said that Russia planned further increases in military spending, primarily on equipment, research and development plus support for the military-industrial complex, “with plans to replace the majority of Russia’s mostly Soviet-era military equipment with modern weaponry by 2020.”
“However, many analysts are doubtful as to whether the industry will be able to deliver on such ambitious plans after decades of stagnation following the collapse of the Soviet Union,” wrote the institute in its report.
Besides lacking the production facilities to make use of the additional funding, Russia’s defense industry faces considerable problems with corruption, with the head of main military prosecutor’s office, Sergei Fridinsky, saying in January that there was a “cosmic level” of embezzlement in the military. Since January 2011, there have been 250 cases of bribery, and the damage from corruption was calculated at more than 3 billion rubles. One fraud case saw the state lose 700 million rubles, and 20 million rubles were found in the flat of one of the suspects, who said he did not know how to spend it.