Friday, September 27, 2019

Having Learned Lessons of 1991, Putin Won’t Cut Defense Spending or Be Drawn into an Arms Race, Razuvayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 23 – The Kremlin has learned the lessons of the end of the Soviet Union and therefore will maintain a strong defense force despite calls to shift spending to social needs but won’t allow itself to be drawn into an arms race that could overwhelm the country, according to financial analyst Aleksandr Razuvayev.

            Writing in Nezvisimaya gazeta, the analyst says that “defense spending was chronically underfinanced not only in Yeltsin’s time but also in the first two terms of Vladimir Putin,” with the situation beginning to change only “after the war with Georgia” in 2008 (

            The subsequent arms build up and its modernization has had “a commercial effect,” allowing Russia to sell more arms internationally. “The peak of defense spending was reached in 2015 and 2016” when Moscow spent 4.3 percent of GDP on the military and 4.4 percent respectively, Razuvayev continues.

            This year, Russia’s defense spending amounts to 2.8 percent of the country’s GDP, close to the “normal” level of 3 percent; and thus Putin who makes the decisions on this point has returned the country’s military spending to what it should be despite the calls of economists who say that money should be shifted to education, medical care and other social needs.

            Those who do so, the financial analyst argues, “forget the old rule: he who does not fee his own army will feed another. The clearest example is Libya.” 

            But that is only one part of the equation, Razyvayev says. “The USSR died not only because of the ineffectiveness of its planned economy and the falling prices on oil but also because of increased defense spending. The Soviet army was the strongest in the world, but this did not save the USSR from falling apart.”

            Putin has learned that lesson and integrated it into his plans for the country and its defenses: He will spend enough to ensure that the country has a fully capable military but he won’t be drawn into an arms race lest that put pressures on the economy like the last one did in the 1980s.

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