Russia: February 18, 2001



Defense spending in Russia took a big hit when, within a few years in the early 1990s, the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell apart. From $130 billion in 1992, Russian defense spending hit bottom at $48 billion in 1998. The rising price of oil increased the value of Russias oil exports and this allowed more money to be spent on weapons and troops. By 2001, Russia was spending some $50 billion a year. Moreover, a larger proportion was (two thirds) was going to ground forces. The navy and strategic rocket forces were no longer getting nearly half the budget. Border guards and national police were also getting more money. Although Russia still uses conscription, more volunteers are being used. Thus half the budget is now spent on personnel (pay, food, housing, etc) compared to 25 percent ten years ago. During the 1990s, Russian arms industries got few orders and most companies became bankrupt, or shifted to non-weapons production. The only thing that kept any arms firms alive was exports. That has grown as well, reaching $4 billion a year in 2000. Although the Russian military spending is rising, it is still much smaller than the US $300 billion a year. Moreover, there is still considerable corruption and waste in the Russian military. The government is trying to clean things up, but progress is slow.