Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Moscow Boosting Military Spending Lest It Face Political Problems, Luzin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 5 – The Kremlin plans to spend more on the military next year even though the economy is declining and government revenues are falling, Pavel Luzin says, not only because it continues to index the pay of those in uniform to keep them happy but also because its spending on weaponry prevents some of the country’s largest firms from collapsing.

            The Moscow security analyst says that has been true in recent years and will continue next, despite budgetary stringency. In his view, the regime can’t afford to reduce spending on either indexing or arms purchases lest it anger key constituencies (znak.com/2020-10-05/rashody_na_voennyh_v_2021_godu_vyrastut_nesmotrya_na_padenie_ekonomiki_rf_chto_eto_znachit).

            While one might have expected that the military budget would have remained more or less constant, it has increased because Russian firms, as a result of the weakened ruble, have to spend more abroad on key components and because the loyalty of those in uniform is something the regime can’t afford to take any chances with.

            The fact that the regime appears to be spending more on the civilian than the military sector next year is largely a bookkeeping fluke, Luzin continues. Many of the things classified under the civilian side are in fact related to the military and should be included there. He argues that it is a mistake to see this as anything more fundamental.

            He argues that there are relatively few places Moscow could have cut unless it was prepared to see a spike in unemployment among defense workers and anger among both commanders and defense industry owners. Any cuts that would help the budget would be most harmful politically.

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