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The Real Amount of Russian Defense Spending


I have recently written two articles about books that have to do with Russian defense spending and the Russian Armed Forces. Those are my reviews of The Red Line and Bridge of Spies. Because of those, I thought it would be a good idea to look into what Russian defense investments currently are.

While doing that research, I came across a great article on “Defense News” by Michael Kofman. The article is called “Russian defense spending is much larger, and more sustainable, than it seems“. Because I liked the article so much, I thought it would be a good one to do a review of. If you are interested in current military affairs, or Russia in general, this is a great article to read.

Read Kofman’s article here:


In his article, Kofman does a good job of dispelling notions that Russia’s current defense spending is limited, unsustainable, or significantly below America’s.

He dispels that first point by pointing out what Russia has accomplished. Despite the failings of its Navy, the Russian Army and Air Force have been slowly and steadily modernizing. Especially in strategic weapons, their rocket forces, anti-air weapons, tanks, and air-to-air missiles. Those advances would not have been possible with “limited” defense spending, but are instead indicators of heavy Russian investments into its armed forces.

Additionally, those investments show that Russia is investing in areas in which it can cheaply counter expensive American investments. For example, they are investing in anti-air weapons so heavily because it is a great investment if a $1 million anti-air missile can take down a $80 million F-35. In fact, that is also the base of the Chinese Anti-Access/ Area Denial strategy.

Kofman dispels the notion that Russian defense spending is unsustainable by showing that it is nowhere near the levels it was as a percentage of GDP during Soviet times, and that it has actually been declining as a percentage of current Russian GDP in recent years. If the Russian economy stays at its current level, or grows some, then Putin’s defense programs should be sustainable.

Finally, Kofman shows that because of purchasing power parity, Russian military investments are higher than they seems. The Russian government pays for equipment in rubles, not dollars, so the decline of the ruble doesn’t affect defense spending as much as it might seem. That is an economic situation that I don’t fully understand, so I can’t do it justice here. However, you should read the article to understand it, Kofman does a great job explaining it. However, I do wish he had contrasted it some with the current Chinese military buildup.


Check out this article. It’s a great one and will give you a better understanding of what it going on with the Russian military. Socialism leads to poverty and Russia was a socialist nation for many years. Because of that, it still faces funding shortages and is having a hard time rebuilding. 

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But, Russian defense spending is still serious. While it isn’t the threat some make it out to be, some Russian weapons and tactics, like I discussed in “cryptocurrencies and hybrid wars,” still pose a threat to the US, as do AI and robotics advances.

Hybrid wars will continue to pose a challenge for the US. Russians troops and tanks might also, as described in my review of The Red Line, an excellent book about a Russian invasion of Western Europe. But, the truth about Russian defense spending is that it isn’t that huge. America spends more and has far more effective weapons.

By: Gen Z Conservative