Russia: Army chief Says Moscow Won’t Be Drawn Into Arms Race As Kremlin Looks To Cut Defense Costs
By Jonny Tickle
The head of Russia’s General Staff has told foreign military attaches that Moscow has no intention of joining an arms race, and is much more interested in stabilizing the world and developing its defensive capabilities in peace.
“Next year, the Russian Ministry of Defense will continue to work to create conditions for the progressive and balanced development of the army and navy to ensure peaceful socio-economic development of the country without being drawn into a costly arms race,” Valery Gerasimov said on Thursday.
The general also noted that Russia is capable of protecting the interests of the country and its allies.
Gerasimov’s comments come at a time when the country’s armed forces are being considered for potential spending cuts, making a Cold War style military spending joust an impossible task. The proposed 2021 budget could see the army receive 120 billion rubles ($1.6 billion) less than in 2020, as military spending falls to just 2.7 percent of national GDP – its lowest level in a decade.
On Friday, Deputy Defense Minister Tatyana Shevtsova addressed the Finance Ministry’s suggestion that the Armed Forces could reduce its staff by 10 percent. She noted that her department had rejected the idea, explaining that it would make no difference to finances.
Last week, at his annual press conference, President Vladimir Putin called Russia a peace-loving country, noting that five countries spend more money on their militaries. He also pointed out that the US had pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces and Open Skies treaties, which the Kremlin continues to support.