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  Monday, December 9, 2019
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has called the country's military budget peanuts compared with those of many other countries
Izvestia, a popular daily, reported today that Russia would spend $20 billion on the military in 2005, which is less than even Saudi Arabia allocates, to say nothing of the United States. Nevertheless, Russia manages to ensure nuclear parity with the U.S. and maintain its army, which is almost as numerically strong as its American counterpart (1.2 million troops in Russia, against 1.4 million in the U.S.) The Russian army (400,000) has double the number of officers in the U.S. There is no denying that Russian soldiers are paid pittance compared with their western colleagues. For example, Russian contract servicemen earn less than Western conscripts, while Russian officers make less than Western privates. However, this is not the only reason for the striking difference between the defense budgets of Russia and leading countries. The secret of this "economy" is simple and Ivanov himself mentioned it. When trying to explain why Russia cannot afford to have a 100%-contract army, the minister said: "[The country would] need three defense budgets to pay contract servicemen and train them... because a contract serviceman is only better than a conscript if he trains from morning till night... In this case, we will have to forget about rearmament, and the construction of housing for officers. This is trap, a vicious circle." Experts consider spending on ensuring an army's combat readiness to be the most reliable yardstick for measuring its combat capability. By this criterion, the Russian army trails most modern armies. In 2006, the U.S. is planning to spend $147.8 billion on combat training, or 36% more than on personnel maintenance ($108 billion). In Russia, expenditures on combat training in 2004 made up 7% of the defense budget, or less than $1 billion. So, Russia spends on defense 30 times less than the U.S., while America spends 150 times more on combat training than Russia
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