… The Ministry of Defence of Belarus has been existing for several years already. There are dreams that come true, and there are those that are not destined to come true. Let’s try to figure out what category the idea of acquiring the S-400 for the air defence of Belarus belongs to.
The export value of the S-400 battalion with missiles exceeds $ 600 million. Which is more than the annual defence budget of Belarus.
Obviously, these systems are sold much cheaper for the Russian army. But in the public domain there is no reliable data on the price. In addition, it’s doubtful that Minsk can count on significant discounts: in any case, the cost of Su-30SM fighters for Belarus, announced by Russia ($ 50 million per unit), is a market price.
In order to buy something, the state must either spend less on other expenses (social sphere, economy, infrastructure, etc.) or “earn” more. The “earnings” of the state are taxes from the national economy. The economy is growing — the tax flow is growing, the authorities’ purchasing opportunities are expanding.
But is the Belarusian economy growing? Only formally. If we recalculate the GDP of Belarus in US dollars (this currency is used to pay for the arms imported from Russia) and adjust the figures to take into account the USD inflation, we get an unenviable picture: from 2011 to 2019, the GDP of Belarus decreased by 13% (from 63.08 billion dollars to 53.62 billion in 2011 prices).
Perhaps there was an increase in national defence spending in 2011-2019? After all, the second half of this period is characterized by a security crisis in Eastern Europe caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine / NATO’s advance to the East (underline the reason you like). No, national defence spending in 2011 prices fell by 11.5% in 2019.
Meanwhile, the cost of weapons on the world market doesn’t remain the same: “arms inflation”, the constant growth of the cost of weapons systems is a long-standing headache for the military departments of many countries of the world. In order to somehow cope with this issue, the generals in the West are initiating a technological turnaround: if earlier military technologies went to the civilian sector (like mobile communications, for example), now weapons are being created using mass and therefore relatively cheap civilian technologies and products.
Thus, the long-term trends of economic development (or rather, degradation) of Belarus and the long-term budgetary practices of the government do not give grounds for optimism regarding the financial viability of the Ministry of Defence of Belarus in the future.