Editor’s note: This is only in nominal terms — adjusted for purchasing power Moscow’s $61 billion 2018 spending translates to about $190 billion — nonetheless it doesn’t jibe with the constant scare stories about Russia which is supposedly drooling over the prospect of overruning Latvia or Poland (places which it abandoned 100% voluntarily in 1991) but for the valiant NATO standing in its way.
The latest Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data on global military spending showed a surprising shift, as while the US remained predictably far ahead of everyone else, the Russian Federation has fallen completely out of the top five.
This wasn’t expected, but also shouldn’t be a huge shock. Despite the US hyping Russia as a threat for decades, Russia hasn’t spent deeply on its military in years, and drawing down from Syria, they don’t have much costly overseas engagement.
By contrast, after the usual top two of the US and China, of which US is by far spending the most, third is Saudi Arabia, which has been spending about 10% of their GDP annually on the military since invading Yemen. Fourth on the list is India, which is spending heavily to gear up for confrontations against Pakistan as well as China.
Fifth place fell to France, a nation which has seen its costs surge in recent years because of military adventures across its former colonial possessions in Africa, as well as eager intervention in Syria.
Russia, by contrast, has tried to keep its expenses down, quickly moving to draw down in Syria once their goals were reached, and not spending huge sums developing highly advanced speculative weapons systems of dubious utility.
Thus, while the US increased its military spending 4.6% year over year, Russia managed to decrease theirs by 3.5%. Thus, while everyone continues to hype their nervousness about Russia, and the US tries to parlay that into arms sales, the Russians are looking to save money and focus on a deterrence-heavy military stance.