Moskovskii Komsomolets, August 29, 2003, EV

The Cabinet is proposing to allocate 411.473 billion rubles for defense spending in 2004, or 15.3% of overall state spending. Compared to defense spending in 2003 (344.525 billion rubles), the increase is not very substantial.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov: “In the federal budget for next year, I expect to see some degree of evolution in terms of raising combat training standards for troops and improving social provisions for military personnel. Our right-wing politicians consider that the draft budget is overly-militarized; the leftists, on the contrary, say it is giving the military a pittance. For me, this is a good indicator that we are on the right track.”

For the first time, the defense minister has set out how the Defense Ministry plans to spend the money it receives: 41.8% will go into maintenance of troops; 15.7% into combat training; 14.2% into purchasing arms and military hardware; 13.4% into research and development; 8% into repairs of military hardware; 3.7% into capital construction; 2% into transition from conscription to contract service in a number of divisions; 1% into military education and healthcare; and 0.5% into insurance for military personnel.

Comments from Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, vice-president of the Geopolitical Issues Academy: “I am in favor of any increase in defense spending. But the 15% laid down by the Cabinet is not enough, of course. This sum does not correspond to Russia’s size, nor is it adequate to meet the real threats to our state. I’m not aware of any other nation where the defense budget remains practically unchanged, year after year. This should not happen, especially not when military reforms are underway.”