Vladimir Putin with Russian Army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov at the military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don.
Russia is massively ramping up its military spending while cutting education and health budgets as the Ukraine war continues.
In its latest intelligence update on the conflict, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russian government spending is becoming “increasingly focused” on the costs of the conflict.
Projections for 2024 show the Kremlin plans to increase defence spending by 68% compared to this year.
That means its total defence spending will amount to around 6% of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP). To put that into context, the UK spends around 2% of its GDP on defence.
At the same time, education and healthcare spending in Russia will be frozen at 2023 levels, which is a cut in real terms once inflation is taken into account.
The MoD said: “More spending will need to be allocated to fund payments and healthcare costs for the mounting numbers of wounded soldiers and the families of those killed in the conflict.
“More than half of those soldiers wounded severely enough to require longer term medical care have lost limbs, with one in five requiring upper limb amputations. These injured soldiers will almost certainly require lifelong healthcare.”
In a separate intelligence briefing yesterday, the UK government said the number of Russian casualties in the war is approaching 300,000, with nearly 200,000 of those either killed or permanently injured.
The MoD said the rise in military spending could also damage the Russian economy by contributing to rising inflation.
They added: “Continued increases in military spending would force the Russian government to make difficult decisions about how to fund the war, likely increasing financial pressures on Russian businesses.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 23 October 2023.
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— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 23, 2023
Since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 – intending to seize the whole country – his troops have only managed to secure approximately 22% of Ukrainian land.
Last month the MoD said Russian troops are experiencing “extreme disillusionment” with the war in Ukraine.