Trillions secret: how Russia really spends on the military

Russia unbeknownst to the General public reported to the UN on their military spending for 2015 — the year of the Syrian campaign and confrontation with NATO. According to reports submitted to the UN Office for disarmament Affairs (UNODA) with a three-month delay, last year Russia spent on its military at 2.9 trillion — nearly a trillion (or 48%) more than in 2014. Presented to the world community the figure is approximately the same as the provision in the budget section “national defense”, performed in 2015 (3,18 trillion). In 2014, the difference between the UN data and the execution of the budget of 500 billion roubles (see chart).

What explains these differences and how much the state actually spends on defence, it is impossible to say: and budgetary data, and information provided by Russia in the UN, opaque. Assessment of the head of military economy laboratory of the Gaidar Institute Vasily Zatsepin, the total military expenditures of the Federal budget, if you count them in accordance with a UN standard, in 2015 amounted to 4.28 trillion (5.3% of GDP). But it is one and a half times greater than the numbers declared by Russia. Besides starting with data for 2014 reveals Russia’s military expenditure to the UN in the so-called simplified form (simplified reporting form). Before the data was submitted in more detailed form (in the “standard format”), including, for example, costs for the purchase of certain types of weapons. Given the paucity of information supplied by Russia in the UN (Russia does not give any explanation to the figures, although the UN standard calls for it), ever-increasing secrecy of the defence budget and gaps in reporting (for example, military research and development), Zatsepin categorical: “Use this information”.

However, the statements of Russia to the UN sheds light on how much the government spends on defence in the context of the armed forces (in the open part of the Federal budget there is no such evidence). More in 2015, Russia has spent on the Navy — 700,3 billion rubles, a growth of 38.6% in nominal terms compared to 2014 (see table). The most significant growth showed the expenditure for air force (in mid-2015 was enlarged and converted into Air and space forces) — 66%, to 662,4 billion rubles. due to this, the budget of the air force/HQs for the first time exceeded the expenditures of the army. In part, this may be due to the conduct of military operations in Syria, said a member of the Duma Committee on defense Vladimir Bessonov. But maybe it’s just a consequence of the merger of the air forces and aerospace defense.

Almost 1 trillion rubles fell into the category of “Other” (other types of armed forces), ie one third of all declared military expenditures have on other, unnamed structure. According to the UN standard that States can include in this column the cost of paramilitary forces, able to conduct military operations (for example, the border service of the FSB or national guard troops). In 2007-2009 Russia declared in the report for the UN spending on internal security, it was noted in the 2010 report of the UN Secretary General on transparency in military spending.

The law on the budget and other public budget documents do not reveal information about the distribution of expenditure by types of armed forces: there is only line costs for the armed forces in General was 2.43 trillion in 2015. Last year 67% of the allocations under section “national defense” and 69% — in the section “Armed forces” was closed (described secret applications), follows from the data of the Ranepa and the Gaidar Institute.


System the UN standardized reporting on military expenditures was introduced in 1980 in order to enhance transparency in military relations. Reporting is voluntary, but the government in 1994 adopted a resolution on the annual submission of these data to the UN since the information for 1992. In the database UN-available the relevant reports of the Russian Federation since 2002. The reason for the Russian authorities made a commitment to annual reporting before the UN, were two of the document — a resolution of the UN General Assembly of 1985 on the reduction of military budgets and adopted in 1992 by the results of the negotiations on confidence-building measures and security between the countries of the Vienna document.

According to a government decree from January 1994, data on military expenditures to the UN is preparing a whole group of agencies, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of economic development, Ministry of defense, FSB, Ministry of internal Affairs and others. The final figures of the Ministry of Finance shall transfer to the Ministry of foreign Affairs, which reports to the UN Secretary General annually until April 30.

The UN recommends to submit data on military expenditure for the previous year until 30 April, but this year Russia has delayed the submission of reports for almost three months. Last week, the Department of information and press of the foreign Ministry reported in response to the request that the data requested from relevant departments and, after necessary approvals will be presented to the UN. In an open database UNODA Russian statements appeared Monday morning (July 25). Last year the UN received reports from Russia on may 5, the documents on the website of the UNODA. Press-service of profile Department of the UN, the press service of the defense Ministry and the Ministry’s representatives did not answer requests for military reporting before the UN.

The UN standard implies that countries report on expenditure for the maintenance of its military personnel, operations and maintenance, procurement and the establishment of a weapons research and development. Under the “military spending” refers to “all financial resources that a state spends on the needs and functions of its armed forces.” The UN expects that the information must be “complete” and “exhaustive”.

But in recent years Russia has regularly underestimates these data, according to the monitoring of Vasily Zatsepin presented in the review of the Gaidar Institute, the Russian economy in 2015. Since 2009 the sums to which the Russian authorities advise that the UN is always inferior to the official data on spending from the Federal budget under section “national defense”, in 2014, this gap was 500 billion rubles. While in the period 2005-2009, the UN, in contrast, annually received information, a bit high compared to the amounts of the defense section of the Federal budget (see chart). What caused the changes in accounting and reporting, Russian authorities never explained.

In the last two years, Russia does not disclose to the UN the costs of military R & d, although in the Federal budget, the expenditures on Applied research in the field of national defence. The expenditure under this item in recent years, growing at a faster pace in 2015 they increased by 30% on the previous year — to 318,5 billion rubles (0.4% of GDP). The Academy and the Gaidar Institute in your opinion on the draft budget for 2016 stated that the support of R & d in the field of national defense increases, and given the fact that there are closed articles such costs, “it is clear a greater emphasis on applied military-oriented research”, which generally meets the geopolitical settings of the current policy of the government.” The lack of accountability for the UN data on expenditure on R & d Bessonov of the Duma Committee on defense ties with the requirement of secrecy. “The struggle between States has always been in this direction: find out what research that develop to other States. The main task of the intelligence world — to explore the development of latest technology, latest weapons,” he says. “We can assume that they are not, I believe that the data on them needs to close” — said the Deputy .

The real military expenditure of Russia has always been above declared, says Zatsepin from the Institute Gaidar. Not all military spending is contained in the “core” budget section “national defense” — heavily on the needs of the army are on the “peaceful” articles, the observations of the expert. So that part of the expenses of the Ministry of defence was listed in “National issues”, housing, “Education”, “Health”, “Social policy” and even “Physical education” and mass media. Appropriations for the internal troops and border service is hidden under “national security”, while the destruction of chemical weapons and disposal of weapons, purchase of vehicles for the troops, subsidies to defense enterprises, and more are financed from the section “national economy”. Compensation to the families of the victims of war and benefits for pregnant wives of conscripted soldiers are paid on section “Social policy” is taken from the same funds for material support of specialists of the nuclear weapons complex of the Russian Federation. A significant portion of these costs should be considered in the “military expenditures” for the UN standard, as well as on the methodology of the Stockholm Institute for peace studies (SIPRI). The rating SIPRI, Russian military spending in 2015 amounted to slightly more than 4 trillion rubles.

In addition, not all defense expenditures are contained in the Federal budget, some of them embedded in regional and even municipal budgets, pointed out in his thesis on the defense spending processor HSE Dmitry Komyagin. In the example Komyagin brings the cost of mobilization preparation of the economy (compensation to businesses that the government gives the job to prepare and store in case of war in various capacities. — ). According to the calculations of Zatsepina, in 2015 in the regional budgets for the mobilization preparation of the economy was laid 1.3 billion rubles, and in General military regional budgets amounted to 3.9 billion RUB. as a whole in 2015, according to the “peaceful” military articles of the budget was allocated, together with nearly 1.1 trillion rubles, it follows from the calculations of Zatsepina. Taking this into account, calculated according to the standards of the UN military expenditures of Russia in 2015 amounted to approximately 4.3 trillion rubles, says the economist. This 5.3% of GDP (growth by 0.9 percentage points — an unprecedented large share of military spending; still, according to the calculations of Zatsepina, the military burden of the economy did not exceed 4.5% of GDP.