The Ukrainian armed forces have asked the Kiev government for a $4 billion budget going into 2016, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday. If approved, the budget would represent a huge $1.6 billion increase from the year previous.
The ministry plans to spend the money on "increasing the combat readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces and providing sufficient financing for the governmental targeted defense programs of developing armaments and combat hardware and housing construction," the press office said.
The proposed budget is a 23 percent increase from 2013, and 65 percent more than in 2005, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, a defense think tank.
However, rampant corruption in the country’s military means that very little of the budget will actually trickle down to the troops fighting rebels in eastern Ukraine, according to SIPRI, which also says most of the budget will go toward personnel costs. More than half of Ukraine's entire military budget is expected to be spent on pension payments for Ukrainians who served in the Soviet military until the breakup the empire in 1991.
The funding request reflects the expansion of Ukraine’s military as it confronts Russian-backed rebels in the Donbass. Mass conscription has seen the military's ranks grow from 130,000 in 2014 to 250,000 by the beginning of 2015. However, because of a general lack of funding, conscripts are often forced to buy their own equipment.
Earlier this month, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister said the armed services needed to increase its entire budget by $4.65 billion per year to account for the increase in troops and the continuing war in the east, Defense News reported. Given that Ukraine's economy is in recession and the country is currently receiving bailout payments from creditors, this level of funding is unlikely to be realized any time soon.
By contrast, Russia’s military budget in 2015 was around $84.5 billion, an increase of 8.1 percent from 2014. The Kremlin is aiming to spend more than $400 billion on modernizing the military by 2020.