Russia’s spending on defence

Russia is among the leaders in terms of the share of GDP spent on defence.

Russia is among the leaders in terms of the share of GDP spent on defence.
Saudi Arabia has overtaken Russia in defence spending, removing it from the list of the world’s top three military spenders, say experts from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This Q&A from RIR looks at why this happened and whether it will affect the country’s defence capability.

How much is Russia spending on defence?

The Stockholm International Peace research Institute (SIPRI) said Russia has increased its defence spending by 7.5 percent in 2015, with the Defence Ministry’s budget reaching $66.4 billion,

How does this compare with other countries?  

According to SIPRI, the world’s biggest military spender, the USA, spent $596 billion on its defence in 2015. Next was China, with $215 billion; and Saudi Arabia, with $87 billion. India spent $51 billion on defence in 2015.

What share of GDP does it constitute?

Percentage-wise, Russia is among the leaders in terms of the share of GDP spent on defence. The USA’s defence spending makes up 3.3 percent of the country’s GDP. China spends around 1.9 percent, whereas Russia’s amounts to 5.4 percent of GDP. The Russian figure is the world’s largest after Saudi Arabia and UAE, with 13.7 and 5.7 percent of GDP respectively. India’s spending makes up 2.3 percent of its GDP.

Is Russia’s military spending rising or falling?

Moscow raised its defence expenditure in national currency in 2015. According to military analysts, the devaluation of the ruble and the sanctions forced some of the defence spending to be rechanneled and some cut.

SIPRI predicts that Russia will be cutting its military spending in 2016.   

Is global military spending rising or falling?

For the first time since 2011, the overall amount of defence expenditure globally grew by 1 percent to reach $1,700 billion.

“On the one hand, spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world; on the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fuelled surge in military spending of the past decade,” Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the Military Expenditure project at SIPRI, said in the report.

What has oil and foreign exchange rate have to do with it?

Russia in 2015 increased its defence spending in national currency by 7.5 percent. However, falling oil prices and the ruble’s collapse against the dollar have squeezed Moscow out of the top three slots on the SIPRI rating of military spenders. The Stockholm institute calculates all defence spending in dollars.

What does Russia have to save on?

According to military experts, Moscow is cutting its military spending on “services” but is not reducing the amount of funds allocated for the re-armament programme or service personnel training. 

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