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Sanctions force Russia to cut defence spending: study


MOSCOW -- Russia's military spending fell sharply in 2017 for the first time since 1998 as Western economic sanctions hit government coffers hard, a recent study concluded, AFP reported Monday (April 30).

Despite tensions between Moscow and the West, Russia's military outlays last year came in at $66.3 billion, 20% lower than in 2016, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

The last time Moscow was forced to cut spending was in 1998 at the height of a massive economic crisis.

Russia has largely protected its defence budget up to now, imposing cuts in areas such as infrastructure and education, but 2017 was the first time it had no option but to spread the pain, according to senior SIPRI researcher Siemon Wezeman.

Wezeman cited Western sanctions imposed against Moscow over its annexation of Crimea, Ukraine, in 2014 as a key reason for the development.

"It's no longer possible to keep defence at a high level or keep it growing," he said.

"For Russia, it means they may have to swallow their pride."

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