Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Russia is running out of money to support its military adventurism in Syria and Ukraine, and to fund the multi-million dollar weapons systems that threaten the United States.
Russia slashed its military spending by around 20 percent in 2017, said a new study from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an international institute based dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. This sharp fall in Russia’s military spending is the first drop in its expenditure in two decades.
Russia defense spending in 2017 was a paltry $66.3 billion, over 20 percent lower than in 2016. “Military modernization remains a priority in Russia, but the military budget has been restricted by economic problems that the country has experienced since 2014,” said Siemon Wezeman, SIPRI senior researcher.
The drop in spending means Russia has fallen to fourth in global military expenditures behind Saudi Arabia, which has its own intractable war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia boosted its military spending by 9.2 percent in 2017, reaching a total of $69.4 billion.
By far, the United States remains the world’s biggest military spender with $610 billion, or over eight times Russia’s expenditures. The U.S. accounts for 35 percent of all global military spending, which is larger than the next seven highest-spending nations combined.
Behind the U.S. is China has, which spent $228 billion in 2017 or 13 percent of total world spending. China is currently modernizing the armed services that comprise the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to better challenge the U.S. in Asia, especially in the South China Sea. SIPRI said total military spending worldwide in 2017 hit a new high of $1.7 trillion, an increase of 1.1 percent year-on-year.
To disguise the dire financial straits plaguing its military, Russia launched a massive disinformation campaign over the last few months intended to overawe the world with the destructive potential of “new” strategic and nuclear weapons.
Russia’s new weapons seek to create the perception Russia is far stronger than it really is. Earlier this year, Russia revealed allegedly “invincible” nuclear-capable missiles and hypersonic missiles with its dictator, Vladimir Putin, the chief carnival barker.
Western analysts said the steep drop in military spending will have tangible impacts on Russian operations in Syria and Ukraine. The $70 billion spent by Russia in 2016 on its military was equivalent to 5.3 percent of its GDP. By comparison, the U.S. 2016 budget of $611 billion accounted for 3.3 percent of its GDP.
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