Russia now spends more on its military, relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), than both the United States and Europe respectively.
According to figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Moscow spent 4.1 percent of its GDP on defence in 2013, an increase of 0.6 percent over the past 10 years. By contrast, the United States spent 3.8 percent of GDP on defence and Britain spent just 2.3 percent, with further defence cuts expected.
The only neighbouring country that spends more is Azerbaijan, with 4.7 percent.
Defence spending in Ukraine has also rocketed by 16 percent in the space of a year, coinciding with the crisis in Crimea and continued tensions with Russia over the eastern provinces of the country.
Russia’s military spending relative to GDP is now the highest of any major world power, higher even than China. Russia’s increase also comes as overall world military expenditure fell by 1.9 percent to $1.75 trillion.
The Guardian reports that Russia is planning to spend $705 billion modernising its military equipment. Despite its conventional armed forces dwarfing those of neighbouring countries, including Ukraine, much of its hardware is outdated and badly in need of replacing.
Russia still trails far behind on defence spending in absolute terms, though. America spent $640 billion in 2013, compared to Russia’s $88 billion. Russia also trails China, which spent $188 billion on its military in 2013.