Russia's spending on armaments declined by 20% in dollar terms in 2017, which in absolute terms was the most significant decline in the world. This is stated in the new report of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Reducing Moscow's spending on armaments is associated with both planned cutbacks in this area and with a fall in the ruble exchange rate. In general, defense spending in the world increased by 2.2% over the year. The main contribution was made by China, Saudi Arabia, India and other Asian countries. Most actively in relative terms militarized bordering with Russia newcomers of the European Union. Romania, for example, increased the military budget by 50%.
According to SIPRI, Moscow's military expenditures in 2017 declined for the first time in 19 years (since 1998) and immediately by 20% ($ 13.9 billion), to $ 66.3 billion. Thus, the share of military expenditures in the country's GDP decreased from 5 , 5% to 4.3%. "Modernization of the army remains a priority for Russia, but the economic problems the country has been experiencing since 2014 have limited the military budget," said SIPRI senior researcher Simon Vezeman.
On the reduction of defense spending, despite the Syrian campaign and confrontation with the West, President Vladimir Putin first announced in 2016. In December 2017, he noted that in 2018 the country will spend on defense 2.8 trillion rubles. (about $ 45 billion at the current rate). In this case, Russia will move in the ranking of SIPRI from the fourth to the ninth place, ceding, among other things, Japan, France, and Britain. As noted on December 22, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the military budget after the decline in 2018 will be 2.8% of GDP (lower than in 2008). At the same time, the minister drew attention to the fact that other countries are not going to reduce military spending. In addition to the planned reduction in the budget, the factor of the sharp depreciation of the Russian currency also plays a role. So, in rubles, Russia's defense spending rose from 2013 to 2016 by 39.5%, and in dollars - by only 19.1%.
Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makienko notes that the SIPRI calculations should be treated with caution and use more relevant national statistics. "Reducing the cost of defense is planned, moreover - it is inevitable. One of the reasons is the periodic saturation (the army with the new military equipment. - "Kommersant"). For example, it has already happened by helicopters for the next ten years, "the interlocutor of Kommersant added. That is, the reduction is primarily due not to the economic or military-political situation, but to the natural processes of rearmament, the expert concluded.
Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief, recalls that in previous years a major role was played by the state guarantees issued for loans to replenish working capital. It is about 1 trillion rubles. loans that were taken by enterprises that carry out state defense orders for the speedy rearmament of the Russian army (800 billion in 2016 and 200 billion in 2017). "These payments and inflated actual military expenditures (up to 3 trillion 775 billion in 2016 and 2 trillion 778 billion in 2017), and now there is a normalization," he says. In addition, according to the expert, the reduction in military spending in 2018-2019 was laid in the budget plans over the past few years.
While Russia was reducing defense spending, it was increased in Asia. The champion (in absolute figures) in 2017 was China, raising them by 5.6% ($ 12 billion), to $ 226 billion and retaining the second place after the United States. However, it can not be called militarization. The country's GDP grew by 6.9% in 2017, so the share of defense expenditures in GDP, adjusted for inflation, did not change (1.9%). Experts also note that the growth of Chinese military spending in 2018 was the lowest since 2010. On the third place in the world, overtaking Russia, Saudi Arabia went out, spending on defense the most in the list of top-15 relative to its GDP: about 10%. Riyadh increased spending by 9.2%, to $ 69.4 billion on the background of regional conflicts, in particular, the confrontation with Iran in Syria and Yemen.
US military spending is still 35% of the world ($ 610 billion) - their level, according to the report, has not changed. Washington spends 2.7 times more on its arms than its closest rival Beijing, while the White House promised in 2018 to increase defense spending to $ 700 billion. It is expected that this money will go to modernize the US nuclear arsenal, expand the fleet and increase the number of servicemen.
India also increased its military spending (it replaced France from the fifth place with $ 63.9 billion) and Brazil (it rose from 13th to 11th place from $ 29.3bn). In addition to the already mentioned countries and France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and South Korea also joined the top ten, whose positions in the rating have not changed since 2016. Their increment in the military budget has remained within the world average (about 2%).
The continuous growth of military spending in Asia is attributed to the majority of experts by the fact that China actually launched a "regional arms race". This is especially evident in the case of India, which is included in the top five in terms of defense spending. "In India, they do not pretend to win over China in a competition for military expenditures and understand that the current state of the army and the military-industrial complex are not sufficient to repel threats, from terrorism to China," SIPRI senior research officer Petr Topychkanov told Kommersant. Nevertheless, there is a positive dynamic: the military industry is modernizing, private business is growing, ties with world leaders in this area are strengthening (the United States, Russia, Israel, etc.). "
The countries of Central Europe were most active in 2017, to which, according to the SIPRI methodology, most of the former socialist countries belong. Their military expenditures increased by an average of 12%. Not only in this region, but also in the world (by a relative indicator), Romania became the record holder, which increased defense spending by exactly 50% in 2017. The expenses of Lithuania and Latvia increased by 21%. In absolute terms, their indicators still remained small: for the whole region in 2017, there are $ 24.1 billion of military expenditures.