It became clear after the end of the Cold War that the then USSR was finding that the cost of maintaining parity with the US military was crippling them economically. There have been suggestions that the US deliberately ramped up their defense spending in order to achieve the goal of straining the USSR’s finances. While Russia now seems to have ceded dominance to the US, they have clearly shifted to a mode where they accept second-tier status while still maintaining enough strength to serve their own needs.
Now comes news that the Russian military budget is being cut drastically this year.
Figures from the Russian Federal Treasury show that the defense budget has been cut by 25.5 percent for 2017, falling from 3.8 trillion rubles to 2.8 trillion rubles. IHS Jane’s, one of the most authoritative sources on defense news, said the move represents “the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.”
Let’s put this in context before we move on: The cuts come after significant military budget increases in recent years (averaging about 19.8 percent a year since 2011) as Putin sought to revamp the Russian military and replace a massive chunk of Soviet-era hardware by 2020.
There’s also some quibbling going on over the figures used by Jane’s. Some experts believe the cut is more like 7 percent when the impact of debt repayment to defense industry firms is taken into account.
Either way, the Russian defense budget is being cut — and not insignificantly — at a time when we’re being told Moscow is a grave threat to peace-loving people everywhere. There are a number of reasons for the cuts, the most obvious being that the Russian economy has been put under pressure due to Western sanctions and reduced oil and gas prices. So no, the cuts don’t come from the goodness of Putin’s heart — but it’s clear that he doesn’t see Russia as being on course for major military conflict with the West in the immediate future.
This move comes at the same time that Donald Trump is seeking to massively increase the already bloated US military budget by 10% while cutting back on pretty much all programs that actually help people.
So maybe the Russians are waiting to see if it is turn of the US to bankrupt itself by spending money on useless weaponry, creating an economy that is rotten at the core while shielded by a shiny military shell.