Russia No Longer Among Biggest Defense Spenders after 13 Years in Global Top 5

Russia has dropped out of the top five countries in terms of defense spending for the first time since 2006, a new survey carried out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reveals, according to RBC.

According to SIPRI, Russia was the sixth nation among top military spenders, investing $61.4 billion in defense in 2018, which was less than the spending of the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France.

Russian lawmaker Vladimir Gutenev, who is Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Legal Assistance to the Development of Defense Sector, told RBC that Russia’s decreasing military spending was linked to a peak in state defense orders and the diversification of the defense industry complex in favor of manufacturing civilian goods. He also noted that the portfolio of export orders for Russian military equipment has grown from $48 billion to nearly $55 billion.

“This shows that despite reducing defense spending, we don’t create problems for defense industry enterprises,” Gutenev said.

Vasily Kashin from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics says another reason why Russia’s military expenditure declined is the ruble’s depreciation against the dollar, which affects purchasing power parity.

The analyst says that China, which is ranked second with military spending at $250 billion, has been boosting its expenditure proportionally to its economy. Its official military expenditures reach nearly 1.5% of the GDP. Turkey, which had the highest growth in military spending last year (24% to $19 billion), is switching to the next generation of weapons, Gutenev noted. “This is a momentary surge for the coming three or four years,” he said.

Andrei Frolov, editor-in-chief of the Arms Export magazine, told RBC that it is very difficult to assess military expenditures.

“In various countries, military expenditure is counted differently. For example, China does not include the value of R&D in the sphere of creating new arms systems and military equipment, they refer this to spending on industry,” Frolov explained.