Streetwise Professor

September 21, 2007

Russian Military Spending Redux

Filed under: Military,Russia — The Professor @ 11:27 am

My recent post on the Russian military mentioned that I was looking for an article I had seen regarding how little rumble Russia was getting for the ruble spent on the military. Via La Russaphobe, I came across this article by Pavel Felgenhauer that made the point:

Under Putin, the defense budget has multiplied as petrodollars poured into the country. In 2000, it was 146 billion rubles ($5.8 billion); this year, it is 870 billion rubles ($34 billion). But it is unclear where all this money is going. Contract soldiers today get on average only 8,000 rubles ($315) a month; officers get 12,000 ($470) to 15,000 ($590). Moreover, service conditions in the military continue to be appalling and the ranks are full of discontent. This year’s procurement budget for new weapons is some 300 billion rubles ($11.8 billion), but the only procurement to speak of consists of 30 new tanks, several helicopters, missiles and other small items.

This inspired me to Google “Felgenhauer Russia Military Corruption” and I found an article by Felgenhauer that spells out in much detail the abject failure to make any progress towards a viable conscript army in Russia. Felgenhauer also argues that the Russian military establishment is mired in the past, looking backwards to WWII rather than responding to current military realities. It still envisions relying on mass conscript armies rather than modern professional cadres.

A few more clicks led me to this Felgenhauer article from 2004 which says:

In 2003, the Defense Ministry officially spent 118 billion rubles ($3.84 billion) on procurement. This year, more than $4 billion has been allocated for Defense Ministry procurement. If one takes into account that the U.S. dollar’s relative purchasing power in Russia is twice that in the United States, it is indeed a large sum of money, as Putin says.

If the military procurement funds of other Russian armed forces are added to the Defense Ministry’s budget, the total amount is roughly equivalent to Russia’s net proceeds from weapons exports.

China, India and other countries spent about $2 billion per year in the 1990s, rising to about $4 billion per year from 2000, to buy Russian weapons. Over 400 jet fighters and bombers, over 20 new submarines and warships and many other weapons were procured, while the Russian military got nothing.

Last year procurement money was spent, but next to nothing was actually acquired — several new tanks, four helicopters. And that’s it. The official line is that most of the money went to develop new weapons that the Russian military will get in years to come.

But Russian defense analysts report that they can clearly see the returns from Chinese and Indian procurement spending in the accounts of Russian defense industry companies, while they can find almost no trace of the $3.84 billion the Defense Ministry has spent on procurement and R&D. This money has apparently been misappropriated or disappeared down rat hole.

Still haven’t found the exact article I was looking for, but these are consistent with what I remember. They also suggest that the Russian procurement budget is intended primarily to procure boodle for those with the juice, rather than things that go boom. Which ain’t all bad.

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