x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

China and Russia ready to take up the cudgels

As western governments trim their defence budgets, China and Russia start to take up the slack.

Many western governments are taking an axe to their defence budgets as they seek to trim budget deficits.

Defence suppliers are likely to feel the pinch after years of huge arms spending by the US and European governments to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Expenditure by the US defence department has nearly doubled over the past decade to US$965 billion (Dh3.5 trillion).

But the war in Iraq has ended and US is drawing down its military presence in Afghanistan. Barack Obama, the president, and the Congress in August agreed to plans to cut security-related spending by as much as $450bn over 10 years. Much of the reduction is expected in the first half of that period.

Budget-saving steps are already being taken in the UK, where the government hopes to trim as much as 7.5 per cent off military expenditure over five years. That will mean cutting the annual defence budget from £37bn (Dh216bn) to about £34bn for the next four years.

Germany is also embarking on a drive to streamline its military expenditure, involving cutting troops from 250,000 to 185,000.

In contrast, other defence heavyweights are adding to their military muscle. Six hundred jets, 1,000 helicopters and eight nuclear submarines feature in Russia's $650bn overhaul of its military by 2020.

Chinese defence expenditure is expected to rise by 12.7 per cent this year as Beijing allocates $89bn for hardware and wage rises.

* Tom Arnold

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