The war in Ukraine has dragged on for nearly three months now, and it’s costing Russia billions of rubles or hundreds of millions of dollars per day to sustain the offensive, reports reveal.
According to data released by the Russian Ministry of Finance on Tuesday, Russia spent a whopping 628 billion rubles ($9.2 billion) on national defence in April, or roughly 21 billion rubles ($326.8 million) a day, an amount that is equivalent to and even surpasses the budgets of entire regions in the country.
While Russia’s defence spending was not as high prior to the war, it has steadily climbed since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine to supposedly “denazify” the eastern European country.
Also read | Russia’s economic growth slumps amid Ukraine war, experts say worse to come
War does not come cheap:
Indeed, official data shows that Russia spent 233.7 billion rubles ($3.4 billion) on national defence in January 2022, prior to the troop buildup around Ukraine.
That figure subsequently climbed to 369 billion ($5.4 billion) in February when Russia began moving its troops and military hardware to its shared borders with Ukraine.
After the invasion began on February 24, Russia’s defence spending climbed to 450 billion rubles ($6.6 billion) in March, before skyrocketing again to 628 billion rubles in April.
Taken together, Russia spent a whopping 1.681 trillion rubles ($24.6 billion) on national defence from beginning of January 2022 to the end of April 2022, a figure that dwarfs budget allocations for important sectors in the country.
Also read | UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ malnutrition in children due to Ukraine war
The opportunity cost of war:
Russia’s mammoth spending on national defence since the start of the year can perhaps solely be attributed to its plans for, and the eventual execution of the invasion of Ukraine: for comparison, Moscow spent 275 billion rubles on national defence in April 2021, around a third of its spending in the same month this year.
This spending, however, comes at the cost of national development, and is far higher than the budget allocation for key social sectors.
According to The Moscow Times, Russia’s defence expenditure this year is more than twice the amount amount allocated for healthcare in the country, more than thrice the education allocation, and a whopping 10 times the budget allocation for environmental conservation.
Also read | Are Russian commanders killing their own wounded? Captured soldiers claim
Risk but no reward:
What is perhaps most striking about Russia’s defence expenditure since January is that it has yet to yield major military dividends.
Despite spending 1.681 trillion rubles since the turn of the year, Moscow failed to capture any of Ukraine’s major cities for more than two months: the only exception is Mariupol, which fell days ago after nearly three months of shelling.
Reports from UK military intelligence also suggest that Moscow’s renewed offensive on the contested Donbas region in Ukraine has largely stalled and fallen far behind schedule.
With no victory in sight for Putin, the only reward for Russia’s spending, thus far, has been a prolonged war of attrition.