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Russian military spending increases

| Sunday, April 13, 2014, 8:18 p.m.

STOCKHOLM — For the first time in 10 years, Russia last year spent a bigger share of its overall economy on arms investments than the United States as it seeks to bolster its military capability, a Swedish watchdog said on Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Russia increased its military spending by 4.8 percent to $87.8 billion, representing 4.1 percent of its gross domestic product. Global military spending fell by 1.9 percent to $1.7 trillion as many Western countries made cuts because of the financial crisis.

SIPRI program director Sam Perlo-Freeman said the increase in Russia is in line with the country's 2011-20 State Armaments Plan that aims to spend more than $700 billion on modernizing equipment, technology and industry.

“The goal of building up military capability has been seen as more urgent since the Georgia war in 2008, which revealed serious shortcomings in Russia's military technology and readiness,” he said.

However, Perlo-Freeman said, economic constraints may prevent Russia from increasing military spending any faster than was planned, despite the crisis in Ukraine.

The United States cut military outlays by 7.8 percent but remained the biggest arms investor in the world in real terms by spending $640 billion, or 3.8 percent of GDP. The fall is mainly a result of the end of the war in Iraq, the beginning of the drawdown from Afghanistan and effects of automatic budget cuts, SIPRI said.

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