September 14, 2008: Russia is increasing its defense spending 26 percent next year, to $50
billion. Some of the increased money will go to new radios and intelligence
collection and analysis systems (sensors and computers), but most of it will go
to upgrading strategic nuclear weapons. This includes more Topol ICBMs and
Borei class SSBNs (and a version of the Topol used by this submarine) and
upgrades to the Tu-160 heavy bomber. This puts Russia in the top five of
defense spenders (along with the U.S., China, Britain and France).
What this latest burst of spending does not do is
substantially improve the ground forces. Nor do most Russian pilots get much
more practice. Most of the decaying Cold War era vehicles, aircraft and ships
are still not being replaced. The Russians correctly realize that their nuclear
weapons forces are what makes them a major power, so that's where the
additional money is going.