Moscow announced that it plans to increase military spending by nearly 70% in 2024 as it fights against what the Kremlin has dubbed NATO’s “hybrid war.” Russia’s defense budget next year, which is dwarfed by the Pentagon budget, will still be less than the total amount the US has already pledged to assist Kiev in its proxy war with Moscow.
Russia’s Finance Ministry published a document on Thursday explaining that Moscow is set to ramp up defense spending by a whopping 68% to 10.8 trillion rubles ($111.15 billion) next year.
At the same time, the Pentagon budget is fast approaching $900 billion, greater than the next ten highest-spending countries combined, while total yearly spending on the national security state is almost $1.5 trillion.
The document adds, “the focus of economic policy is shifting from an anti-crisis agenda to the promotion of national development goals… [including] strengthening [Russia’s] defense capacity.”
The additional funding is also needed for the process of “integrating” the four regions of Ukraine which Moscow has annexed since its invasion began, namely Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Additionally, draft outlines for Russia’s budget for the next three years show that – due to an adjustment in the budget rule – an extra 1.7 trillion rubles ($17.72 billion) will be made available in spending from oil and gas revenues.
“It is obvious that such an increase is necessary, absolutely necessary, because we are in a state of hybrid war, we are continuing the special military operation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said referring to escalated military spending.
“I’m referring to the hybrid war that has been unleashed against us,” he added. Russian Foreign Minister Serey Lavrov has recently railed against Washington, stating “no matter what it says, it [the US] controls this war, it supplies weapons, [munitions], intelligence information, data from satellites, it is pursuing a war against us.”
Kiev relies on Western intelligence for its myriad drone strikes in Crimea as well as Moscow and elsewhere on the Russian mainland. The tripwires for direct conflict between the US and Russia will be tested as the White House is preparing to provide Kiev with a cluster bomb variant of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) which have a range of approximately 200 miles. The US has also attempted to isolate Russia from the rest of the world by launching an economic war using sanctions designed to be the “economic equivalent of a nuclear weapon.”
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg now concedes Russia’s invasion in February 2022 was a response to the US-led military bloc’s expansion to Russia’s borders and the alliance’s unwillingness to negotiate security guarantees with Moscow.
Since then, Washington has pledged $113 billion to back Kiev in its proxy war with the Kremlin. About $100 billion in weapons and military equipment have been transferred to Ukraine by the US and its allies. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, along with hawks in the legislature, declared the US policy is intended to “weaken” Moscow and cripple its military.
Despite Washington’s agenda, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the commander of US European Command, told the House Armed Services Committee this year that Russia’s ground forces are “bigger today” than before the invasion. Moreover, Cavoli noted that losses to the Russian air force and navy were negligible.
Russia’s announcement regarding the boost in military spending came as Stoltenberg visited Kiev – with the defense ministers of France and the UK – and promised President Volodymyr Zelensky that “NATO will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s key demands rejected by NATO in Moscow’s security proposals just prior to the invasion was Ukrainian neutrality, which Stoltenberg described as a “a pre-condition for not [invading] Ukraine.” During a speech to the European Union Parliament earlier this month, NATO’s Secretary General boasted “of course we didn’t sign that.”
In the months leading up to the invasion, Kiev was already being treated by Washington as a de facto NATO member. During a press conference in Kiev on Thursday, Stoltenberg claimed “Ukraine is now closer to NATO than ever before.”