Russia plans to boost defense spending by nearly 70 percent next year to support its ongoing Ukraine offensive in response to what it perceives as a Western-initiated “hybrid war.” This coincided with President Zelensky seeking air defense systems from allies.

Russia said Thursday that it plans to raise defense spending by almost 70 percent next year, funneling massive resources into its Ukraine offensive to fight what it calls a “hybrid war” unleashed by the West.

With Moscow’s “special military operation” now dragging through its twentieth month, both sides have been digging deep and procuring weapons from allies in preparation for a protracted conflict.

The announcement came as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and the defense ministers of Britain and France visited Kyiv, where President Volodymyr Zelensky lobbied for more air defense systems.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg (L) give a press conference following talks in Kyiv on September 28, 2023. (Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

Ukraine has repeatedly asked for more Western weapons, including longer-range missiles, to help break through Russian positions and launch strikes deep within Russian-controlled territory.

It began its counter-offensive in June but has acknowledged slow progress as its forces encounter lines of heavily fortified Russian defenses.

‘Hybrid war’

According to a finance ministry document published Thursday, defense spending is set to jump by over 68 percent year-on-year to almost 10.8 trillion rubles ($111.15 billion), three times more than education, environmental protection, and healthcare spending combined, figures calculated by AFP showed.

“It is obvious that such an increase is necessary, necessary because we are in a state of hybrid war, we are continuing the special military operation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Katrine Dige Houmøller, with AFP