The economic crisis and sanctions have taken their toll on Russia. Like in recent years, the country’s budget has been slashed and military spending has been cut.

“This autumn we’ll have to work out a budget law for next year. It includes military budget cuts, yet it will have no effect on the rearmament of our army and navy,” President Vladimir Putin said.

It was the same story in 2016, when the Russian government tightened its belt and rolled back military spending by 160 billion rubles (around $2,7 billion).

Ruslan Pukhov, CEO at Centre for Strategic Analyses and Technologies, says the move is not at all surprising.

He added that the Russian public should not be worried about decreased army funding or the country’s defence capabilities. As it stands, the pace of military rearmament hasn’t slowed: Ground, air, and naval forces are still set to receive new hi-tech weapons systems as scheduled.

What will be cut?

The biggest part of the Defense Ministry’s budget ($48 billion, nearly four percent of the country’s GDP) is being spent on new generation military systems. These include fighter jets, bombers, tanks, submarines, and battleships.

However, some experts believe that the budget will be balanced out by postponing certain planned military developments.

“Some shipments and scientific work will be delayed by the government. For example, right now Russia doesn’t need to invest tons of money in the development of the Barguzin rail-based missile system with new era intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). So this work may be postponed for a couple of years,” Izvestia newspaper analyst Dmitry Safonov told RBTH.

He also believes the government will postpone investment in the development of the PAK DA, a new era strategic bomber.

What won’t be cut?

Meanwhile, experts agree that work on some nuclear missile programs will never be delayed or under-financed as they are of primary importance.

Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shougy said earlier this year that the Russian military industry is working 24/7 to create the new Sarmat ICBM.

The rocket – code name RS-28 – weighs 100 tons and has a payload of 10 tons. The first missiles will be delivered to the country’s Strategic Missile Troops after 2020…

Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines

Analysis: We learn two things from this story: 1) Russian sanctions are taking a bite out of the country’s defense budget, forcing the Kremlin to spend less and delay development of certain next-gen weapons systems; and 2) cuts to Russia’s nuclear weapons development are out of the question.

That means the country will continue to rely primarily on its nuclear deterrent capability to keep potential enemies at bay, chief among them a U.S.-led NATO, even though some new weapon systems are coming online. 

One more thing: Russia is upgrading its ICBM force while the U.S. spends cheaply on maintaining its fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs, whose service life was extended from 2020 to 2030 by the Obama administration.