Moscow Is Prosecuting the War on a Pathetic 6% Defense Spending

Great morale booster if you're a Russian mobik

You may have heard the information that Russia’s 2024 federal budget devotes 38% of spending to “National defense and national security”.

Indeed, media in the West is saying the Russia is now running a “war budget”. Is that true?

29% of the federal budget is indeed earmarked for the military, while 8% of it will be spent on “national security”.

But what is “national security” spending in Russia?

That is spending on the Rossgvardia gendarmes, prison guards, the small foreign intelligence service, and the FSB and border guards.

So in fact this “national security” spending contributes very little to the war, and has very little to do with the war.

So in fact the share of the Russian federal budget that goes to the war is actually just 29%.

Moreover the federal budget is not equal to government spending. For example in 2023 30 trillion rubles were spent through the federal budget, and 19.5 trillion through regional budgets.

So the federal budget accounts for only about 60% of government spending. Thus Russia’s defense spending for 2024 will be only 17.5 percent of government spending.

Moreover as the federal budget represents 20% of GDP, defense spending in 2024 will represent 6% of GDP.

Is 6% of GDP a lot, or a little?

Let’s put it in context.

6% of GDP is what Reagan was spending in mid-1980s in peacetime. It is also two to three times less than what the Soviet Union was spending during Reagan.

So then is Russia’s 2024 federal budget a “war budget”? No, it is not.

It is a substantial increase over 2023 in which just 4% of GDP went to defense, yes. But it still isn’t any sort of a “war budget”.

What it actually is, is the last peace budget. It devotes as much as possible to the military, but only under the constraints of neither growing government spending nor cutting into services.

Government spending will grow only minimally from some 30% to some 32% of GDP. Health and education meanwhile will receive the same amount of funding as in 2023 but due to inflation this is actually a slight decrease in real terms.

A true war budget, a true economic mobilization for the war means that government spending sharply rises as % of GDP, even as services are cut.

It also means that everyone becomes noticeably poorer as labor and industrial capacity abandon consumer goods for war goods.

The 2024 budget isn’t that. It doesn’t radically intervene in Russian living standards. In fact it is the opposite. It is a budget that clings to normalcy amid a war with 100,000 Russian dead, and against a bloc with 20 times the population and 25 times the economy.

By contrast SIPRI estimates that Kiev, which is actually aware it is in a war, spent 37% of GDP on it last year, and has government spending accounting for 64% of GDP. (Though some of that is enabled by foreign financial aid, mainly by the EU.)

US defense spending
1 Comment
  1. Scott says

    Studying the battlefield it’s a bloodletting unseen in the world since the Iran-Iraq War, and even 1918. Meter after meter after meter of Russian dead everywhere in Donbas, and for what? Human lives carelessly thrown away – day after day, week after week, month after month.

    The entire affair appears to be a ritual slaughter orchestrated by a death cult.

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