Friday, November 18, 2022

As Ukraine War Grinds On, Moscow Faces Ever More Military Veterans and the Rising Cost of Supporting Them, ‘Politsovet’ Warns

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 17 – One of the consequences of the war in Ukraine that Russians are only beginning to focus on is that it will dramatically increase the numbers of veterans Moscow has committed to supporting after their service and thus the costs to the government and society for decades to come, Yekaterinburg’s Politsovet news agency says.

            To get more people to go to fight, the Russian government has not only equated service in the special military operation with that in a war but dramatically expanded the number of people who will eventually be counted as veterans. At the same time, it has made far more generous promises to this group than ever before, the agency says.

            But there are only two ways to finance this ever-growing burden, it suggests. Moscow will either have to increase taxes or it will have to cut spending on other parts of the budget because reducing benefits for veterans is politically toxic (

            Partially because of an appreciation of these rising costs, the government has already increased taxes on business, with Gazprom set to pay 34 percent next year compared to 20 percent this. But businesses are angry and fighting back, and their political allies in the Duma make even larger or broader tax increases problematic.

            Consequently, Politsovet says, the government will be under pressure to cut spending in other areas – and not for a short term but more or less as long into the future as anyone can imagine, given that the new classes of veterans are young men who can expect to live for decades and will expect to be taken care of.

            “For the time being,” the news agency continues, the authorities are trying to keep basic social spending at the same level; but they are planning across the board cuts of ten percent on all spending outside of the untouchable security area. Some people are already alarmed as spending on the force structures and veterans won’t be affected while almost everything else will.

            Most likely, this is going to be the focus of political fights for some time to come and certainly long after the war ends because of the veterans it is producing. That will require “new forms of dialogue” between the powers and the people as the latter will demand to know why money is being spent on others rather than on them.

            Such discussions will be immediately politicized, although for the present Politsovet concludes, “no on is seriously thinking about that.”

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