Putin announces defence spending increase
Two weeks before the presidential elections in Russia, Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin announced an increase in defence spending. In an op-ed for the Russian daily Rossikaya Gazeta, he justified this undertaking by pointing to regional tensions and growing conflicts. He wrote: “New regional and local wars are being sparked before our very eyes. There are attempts to provoke such conflicts in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s and our allies’ borders.” According to Putin, the investments would apply to ballistic missiles, ships, aircraft and other high-tech weapons and would entail an increase of Rbs4tn ($134bn) compared to military modernisation plans of 2008. Defence spending would go from 3 per cent of GDP (2011) to five to six per cent over the coming decade. Putin also highlighted that the Russian military had been neglected for a long time, and that it was necessary to make these investments now: “In essence, the money we are spending is setting the account for those years when the army and fleet were chronically underfinanced.” Experts remain doubtful about the implementation of this decision. “I think we need to treat this the way we treat any pre-election promise, and wait to see if it is ever implemented,” said one defence ministry consultant.
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