Russia to hike defense budget by 70 percent to fight Putin’s war in Ukraine

Paratrooper commander Major-General Vladimir Seliverstov, 49, (pictured right greeting Vladimir Putin in 2019) is the eighth member of the country's top brass to be fired, suspended, detained or vanished in recent months

Russia is set to increase defence spending by almost 70 percent in 2024, a finance ministry document published on Thursday showed, as Moscow pours resources into its full-scale offensive in Ukraine.

Since the conflict began last year, Russia has ramped up arms manufacturing and pumped massive funds into its military machine, despite persistently high inflation and a weaker ruble.

The document said defence spending was set to jump by at least 68 percent year on year to almost 10.8 trillion rubles ($111.15 billion), totalling about 6 percent of gross domestic product – more than spending allocated for social policy.

“It is obvious that such an increase is necessary, absolutely necessary, because we live in a state of hybrid war, which is unleashed against us, we continue a special military operation, and this requires high costs,” the Russian news agency TASS quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying.

Defense spending is set to total around three times more than education, environmental protection, and healthcare spending combined in 2024, figures calculated by AFP showed.

“The focus of economic policy is shifting from an anti-crisis agenda to the promotion of national development goals,” the finance ministry said in the document.

The increased defense spending comes as Russia’s central bank warns economic growth is set to slow down in the second half of 2023, with inflation above the bank’s target of four percent.

President Vladimir Putin and other officials have largely shrugged off the economic effects of the Ukraine offensive, arguing Russia has largely weathered the storm of Western sanctions.

It said this included “strengthening the country’s defence capacity” and “integrating” the four Ukrainian regions Moscow claimed to annex last year — Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.

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