Russia Spends $500 Million Subsidizing Allies' Arms
Russia has given its allies half a billion dollars in discounts on weaponry, the head of Russia's post-Soviet security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, has said.
"In recent years the volume of deliveries, purchases of weaponry by our allies for the collective forces of the CSTO has significantly increased," Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO General Secretary, told Russian news agency Interfax. "Over the last few years the effect has exceeded $500 million. That is, our allies have saved as a result of the agreement on subsidies for military-technical cooperation."
And, he added, "these purchases are increasing every year."
That Russia gives discounts on weaponry via the CSTO isn't news, but we don't often hear about the amount. As a point of comparison, Russia exported about $15 billion in weaponry last year.
The main recipients of the subsidized weaponry are Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Belarus, Bordyuzha said. The other two CSTO members, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are getting direct Russian military aid packages of more than a billion dollars each.
Will this generosity continue amid Russia's current economic difficulties? Russia spends nearly 5 percent of its GDP on the military, more than double the world average. Even while the economy suffers, Russia has vowed to expand its spending on the military, in part as an economic stimulus. It has been forced to cut back its expansion plans somewhat, however, cutting its defense budget five percent year (though that still represents a 25 percent increase over 2014).
Nevertheless, military expansion plans continue apace. Russia also is considering building air bases in all CSTO countries, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said this week. It already has air bases in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, with plans to set one up in Belarus next year. Might Kazakhstan and Tajikistan then be next?