Russia to hike defense spending by almost 70 percent in 2024: Ministry

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Russia is set to hike defense spending by almost 70 percent in 2024, a finance ministry document published Thursday showed, as Moscow pours resources into its full-scale offensive in Ukraine.

Since the conflict began last year, Russia has ramped up arms manufacturing and pumped massive funds into its military machine, despite persistently high inflation and a weaker ruble.

The document said defense spending was set to jump by over 68 percent year-on-year to almost 10.8 trillion rubles ($111.15 billion), totaling around 6 percent of GDP - more than spending allocated for social policy.

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Defense spending is set to total around three times more than education, environmental protection and healthcare spending combined in 2024, figures calculated by AFP showed.

“The focus of economic policy is shifting from an anti-crisis agenda to the promotion of national development goals,” the finance ministry said in the document.

It said this included “strengthening the country’s defense capacity” and “integrating” the four Ukrainian regions Moscow claimed to annex last year - Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

The increased defense spending comes as Russia’s central bank warns economic growth is set to slow down in the second half of 2023, with inflation above the bank’s target of four percent.

President Vladimir Putin and other officials have largely shrugged off the economic effects of the Ukraine offensive, arguing Russia has largely weathered the storm of Western sanctions.

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