Russian lawmakers back massive military spending increase

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Russian lawmakers backed a record increase in defense spending to fund Moscow’s ongoing offensive on Ukraine, in a first reading of the bill Thursday.

Parliamentarians in the State Duma voted to approve Russia’s spending plans for 2024-26, including a 68 percent increase in military spending next year.

Moscow has already spent tens of billions of dollars on ammunition, missiles, tanks, drones, equipment and soldiers’ salaries since it sent hundreds of thousands of troops into Ukraine last February.

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President Vladimir Putin has doubled down on the offensive, as the economic and human costs of Moscow’s 20-month campaign continue to mount.

Overall government spending will rise more than 20 percent next year to 36.66 trillion rubles ($391 billion), according to the budget proposals.

Defense spending will account for almost a third of all outlays in 2024 - up 68 percent to 10.8 trillion rubles ($115 billion).

At more than 6 percent of the country's GDP, military spending will hit its highest share of the economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russia uses up to 15,000 tonnes of materials - including ammunition and fuel - every day in its offensive against Ukraine.

Before the vote on Thursday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told lawmakers the proposed budget was “aimed at today’s main task - ensuring our victory.”

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