MOSCOW: Russian lawmakers backed a record increase in military spending to fund Moscow’s offensive on Ukraine, in a first reading of the bill Thursday.
Defence spending will account for almost a third of all outlays in 2024 — up 68 percent to 10.8 trillion rubles ($115 billion).
At more than six percent of the country’s GDP, military spending will hit its highest share of the economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Moscow has already spent tens of billions of dollars on ammunition, missiles, tanks, drones, equipment and soldiers’ salaries since it sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
President Vladimir Putin has doubled down on the offensive, as the economic and human costs of Moscow’s 20-month campaign continue to mount.
Overall government spending will rise more than 20 percent next year to 36.66 trillion rubles ($391 billion), according to the budget proposals.
The defence funding increase was included in the spending plans for 2024-26, which State Duma lawmakers voted to approve.
According to Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Russia uses up to 15,000 tonnes of materials — including ammunition and fuel — every day in its offensive against Ukraine.
Before the vote on Thursday, finance minister Anton Siluanov told lawmakers the proposed budget was “aimed at today’s main task — ensuring our victory.”
Some lawmakers echoed Soviet-era World War II slogans in their endorsements of the ramp-up in spending.
“Everything for the front, everything for victory,” said lawmaker Leonid Slutsky, who heads the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, quoting a 1940s wartime propaganda message.