Asymmetric Dialogue

Russia the 4th in Top 15 military defense spending around the world

Russia's 2017 defense spending reached $61.2 billion and provided Moscow the 4th place in the Top-15 list of the biggest military spenders around the world, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) writes in the Military Balance 2018 analytical book.


Russian troops at rehearsal for Victory Day military parade (Picture source Army Recognition)

The first place in the list of the biggest defense budgets was held by the United States ($602 billion); however, this result was predictable. The military spending of the People's Republic of China ($150.5 billion) was ranked the 2nd by the Institute, and this estimation did not come as a surprise too. The third place was held by Saudi Arabia ($76.7 billion) while Russia occupied the fourth. India's 2017 defense spending ($52.5 billion) was also included in the list of the biggest ones. The Top-5 countries are followed by the United Kingdom ($50.7 billion), France ($48.6 billion), Japan ($46.0 billion), Germany (USD41.7 billion), the Republic of Korea ($35.7 billion), Brazil ($29.4 billion), Australia ($25.0 billion), Italy ($22.9 billion), Israel ($21.6 billion; the country's defense spending is partially funded by the United States through the Foreign Military Assistance (FMA) program), and Iraq ($19.4 billion). This is noteworthy that only five NATO member countries are on the above mentioned list. Five countries from the list are located in Europe, one - in North America, five - in the Asia-Pacific region, three - in the Middle East, and one - in South America. It does not seem strange that the aforementioned Top-15 contains no African country.
The United States remained the biggest military spender last year. According to the Military Balance 2018 book, the country's defense budget was almost equal to the combined sum of money spent on defense by the PRC, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, and Australia. Meanwhile, the combined defense budget of the countries not included in the Top-15 list did not exceed USD300 billion. It should be mentioned that the total sum of money spent by all the countries of the world on defense in 2017 approached USD1.6 trillion.
The IISS has also estimated the share of defense spending of each country's gross domestic product (GDP). All the three top positions in this list were held by Middle Eastern or Asian countries, namely, Oman (12.1%), Saudi Arabia (11.3%), and Afghanistan (10.3%). Iraq also had to maintain its defense spending at a relatively high level - 10.1% from the country's GDP - in order to fight terroristic groupings and various militants. Being de-facto at odds, Israel also spent a large share (6.2%) of the national GDP on defense. The abovementioned countries are followed by the Republic of Congo (6.2%), Algeria (5.7%), Jordan (4.9%), Kuwait (4.8%), Bahrain (4.4%), Mali (4.3%), Russia (4.2%), Azerbaijan (4.0%), Armenia (3.9%), and Iran (3.7%).
In terms of regions, North America took the lead (39.3% of the global defense expenditures) followed by Asia and Australia (24.0% of the global defense expenditures), Europe (16.3% of the global defense expenditures), MENA (Middle East and North Africa; 10.9%), Russia and Eurasia (4.3% of the global defense expenditures), Latin America and the Caribbean (4.0% of the global defense expenditures), and Sub-Saharan Africa (1.1% of the global defense expenditures). In terms of countries, the United States accounted for 38.7% of global defense spending in 2017. Washington was followed by the PRC (9.5%), other NATO member countries (7.2%), MENA (6.0%), other Asian countries (6.0%), Saudi Arabia (4.9%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4.0%), Russia (3.9%), India (3.3%), the United Kingdom (3.2%), France (3.1%), Japan (2.9%), Germany (2.6%), South Korea (2.3%), non-NATO European states (1.2%), Sub-Saharan states (1.1%), and other Eurasian countries (0.4%).
The analysts of IISS said Russia's 2017 defense spending had been calculated in accordance with NATO defense-spending definitions. It should be mentioned that this method seems to be very strange. In late December, Defense Minister of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu said the country's 2018 defense budget would amount to $46 billion or approximately 2.8% of the national GDP.