Five tests in four countries just last week: Russia, the US, Iran and North Korea are testing their new missiles. Earlier, in mid-August, a nuclear-powered nuclear missile crashed in the White Sea in Russia. For some time, Americans and Russians have been renewing their fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles. A new era has dawned with disarmament contracts and new weapons being tested instead.

To this arms race, the dispute over the question of who upgrades and who "only" responds. Numbers play a very important role here. The largest military budget of $ 649 billion is afforded by the US, they do not talk about it, President Trump wants to make the US military " great again ". The Russian government, on the other hand, publishes noticeably low figures. The Swedish peace research institute Sipri recently put the Russian budget at $ 61.4 billion, less than the French defense budget ($ 63.8 billion). Sipri said the Russian military budget had fallen. The US spends more than ten times as much as Russia.

Nevertheless, Russia wants to catch up with nuclear weapons and missiles with America. How can it be that President Putin is constantly announcing new weapons systems, making colossal maneuvers and testing nuclear engines, spending only $ 61 billion on paper for the entire army? Quite simply: through creative accounting. The Russian government is systematically calculating its military spending.

Cheap ruble, small budget

There are three reasons why the Russian military budget and the extent of rearmament is likely to be much greater than what the Russian government has indicated.

First, the ruble advantage. The Russian forces buy their armor almost exclusively on the domestic market. The arms companies are predominantly under state control, and sales are in rubles - mostly far below the value for which the same smiths sell their weapons in the world. "Since we buy the armor in rubles at internal prices, we can buy more weapons than any other country that has to acquire them on the world market," recently Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was pleased about the price advantage at the expense of others. The companies make their money with foreign customers.

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Second, the shadow households. Unlike in Western countries, the Russian parliament renounces any control over the defense budget, says Russian military expert Alexander Goltz. Because the government does not have to give an account, it can vary the information, depending on the addressee. Thus, the defense spending that Russia transmits to the United Nations in English is much lower than those recorded in Russian in the state budget at home, says Goltz. Certain expenditures on defense are kept secret anyway, such as spending on the "fight against terrorism" or research subsidies for new armaments. According to research by the Internet newspaper Meduza , these shadow households grow year by year.

If even Sipri takes over the bonsai budget, Putin's plan comes up

Third, the many Russian armies. While a country like France even lists its national police, the gendarmerie, in the defense budget, Russia figures out partial forces. And they are not a few. It is a tradition in Russia that several ministries afford whole armies. The Ministry of the Interior maintains troops with heavy weapons, including the FSB secret service, as well as the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. When Russian forces hijacked Ukrainian sailors in Kerch Strait at the end of 2018, they were special forces of the FSB, for example. In order to know the true extent of the Russian forces, one would have to add all these troops. But nobody can, because the numbers are secret.

From the many opaque pots, of course, many military projects can be financed with rubles discount. Therefore, the Russian President can build so many expensive and new weapons. Nuclear powered cruise missiles, multiple warhead missiles, gliding missiles flying at multiple sonic speeds.

The small calculation of military expenditure, however, belongs to the hybrid warfare. Because for the story that Russia reacts only to Western rearmament and encirclement, Putin needs a military budget in bonsai format on paper. And if such numbers are taken over even by reputable institutes like Sipri without restriction, the plan has already worked out.