Wracked by American Sanctions, Russia Cuts Defense Spending

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September 22, 2020

For the first time since 2014, Russia will spend more on resuscitating its economy than on funding its military as it suffers an economic nosedive precipitated by Western sanctions, the Financial Times reported Monday.

Russia's recently announced budget will cut defense spending by 5 percent and boost spending on social programs by 10 percent. Moscow will also replace its flat income tax with a progressive tax rate.

The Kremlin's shift away from military spending toward domestic programs is reportedly an attempt to boost the country's coronavirus-weakened economy, which has been hurt by American sanctions in recent years.

Among other things, the United States has levied economic sanctions on Russia for its 2014 invasion of Crimea, attempted interference in U.S. elections, continued aid to the Syrian and Venezuelan regimes, cyberattacks on U.S. institutions, and trade relations with North Korea, according to a Congressional Research Service brief.

Favorability toward a tough-on-Russia approach has only intensified in the wake of other norms violations by the Kremlin in recent months. Last week, Republican lawmakers demanded that Moscow release a U.S. Marine imprisoned on dubious charges within Russia.

Lawmakers also renewed calls to strip support from the Russian energy pipeline Nord Stream II following a wave of suppression against Putin critics, culminating in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny last August.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also led a public diplomatic effort to coalesce transatlantic allies against Russia. In an August speech in the Czech Republic, Pompeo warned of Russia's threat to the rest of Europe.

"Russia continues to seek to undermine your democracy, your security through disinformation campaigns, and through cyberattacks," Pompeo told European allies. "It's even trying to rewrite your history."

"At the end of the day it is freedom-loving nations that will find our value sets most overlapping," he added.

Published under: Russia