Russia now spends more of GDP on military than we do

In Putin's worldview, a small price to pay to recapture former glory...

In Putin’s worldview, a small price to pay to recapture former glory…

That’s attention-grabbing, but it shouldn’t be all that shocking, given that a), the Russian economy is smaller than ours and b), the United States itself spends less of GDP on the military than it did for most of my lifetime.

But still, as things ratchet up in Ukraine, this is worth taking note of…

Oh, and what’s my source for this? Is it some warmongering neocon publication, trying to drum up sentiment for increased U.S. military spending? Nope, it was The Guardian, which is hugging itself with delight today for winning a Pulitzer for aiding and abetting Edward Snowden. So there.

An excerpt:

Russia spent a higher proportion of its wealth on arms than the US last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to figures published on Monday by a leading international research body that highlights Moscow’s resurgent military ambition as it confronts the west over Ukraine.

Western countries, including Britain and the US, reduced defence budgets, but Russia increased arms spending by 4.8% in real terms last year to almost $88bn (£52m), devoting a bigger share of its GDP to the military than the US for the first time since 2003, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri)….

13 thoughts on “Russia now spends more of GDP on military than we do

  1. David in Nashville

    Oh, wow–just wow. These 1913 figures show that 37 percent of all military spending in the whole g—–n world was accounted for by the United States. Russia accounted for 5 per cent–5 per cent. We spend over *seven* friggin’ times as much as they do. Their military-industrial complex is so decrepit that their navy has to buy its ships from France–France! Please, stop shrieking these misleading scare statistics. Russia is a third-rate regional power that may be able to beat up on 97-lb. weakling next-door neighbors, but Putin isn’t Hitler, and this isn’t 1938 (I know, I know, with people like you it’s always 1938–but really, it isn’t). We know you think that the US can never spend enough on defense, but a lot of us can think of some higher priorities. And, while I’m here–do you know which of our ostensible “allies” is ostentatiously failing to back us up on Crimea? The one you want to outsource our Middle Eastern foreign policy to? I read your blog for SC; beyond the water’s edge, you’re an embarrassment.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You may scorn me, but the spammers love me. Here’s one I deleted this morning:

      “I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I came across this during my search for something relating to this.”

      Does anyone ever fall for this pooge?

    2. Bart

      Apparently you didn’t take you meds before putting fingers to keyboard. We may not always agree with Brad but we will defend him against baseless comments like yours. Using 1913 as a comparable? Really? Mark made the point quite well, think about it.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I was thinking he meant 2013. But I’m not sure. In any case, what surprised me was that Prof. Carlton got that upset over a post in which I noted that The Guardian was touting this, and then gave reasons why we shouldn’t see it as any sort of shocking, alarming thing.

        On subjects such as this, I find that my progressive friends often have a low boiling point. It’s like their nerves have been on edge ever since Vietnam, and their passion has never subsided.

        They find it monstrous that some of us accept the fact that, since 1945, and especially since 1991, the U.S. IS essentially the closest thing there is to a world policeman, and that the world actually needs such a guarantor of collective security, and that it is far better that it be us than certain other parties. They think us thrice-damned fools for seeing things this way. Therefore, strongly-worded responses ensue, even when we touch lightly, and even rather noncommittally, upon the subject.

        1. Doug Ross

          “and that the world actually needs such a guarantor of collective security,”

          And it’s working out so well.. peace all over the world thanks to our benevolent guiding hand. The more we do to flex out muscles militarily, the more the world adores us. Meanwhile, our own citizens are so above average in health, wealth, and opportunity that we have a surplus of funds to spend to do the same for people around the globe. Nirvana is just around the corner if we can just get Lockheed Martin, Hallyburton, GE, etc. enough money to execute their vision.

  2. Mark Stewart

    Good thing we spend a half a trillion dollars a year on defense. And that we have an economy that can support paying more for social programs than we do for defense.

    The Guardian fell into the trap of the fallacy of comparative periods. One must choose one’s time frames wisely.

  3. Silence

    #1 in the world in % of GDP, South Sudan spends 10.32% of GDP on its military: last year they bought two Coca-Cola’s, three bottles of water, and a machete.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    One factoid I heard on public radio: Russia is straining to pay for all the social programs Crimea is now eligible for, as well as staffing the bureaucracies that will serve it. This alone may limit Putin’s land grabs.


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