The majority of funding from the Kremlin’s strong budget will go towards the Russian military.
Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has approved a national budget for the upcoming three years that will see a 25% increase in spending. It is reported that a significant portion of this budget will be allocated towards defense, as the ongoing war in Ukraine continues.
In 2024, the budget plans for expenditures totaling $415 billion and predicts a deficit of $9.5 billion.
Following its approval by the lower house of parliament, Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stated that the budget was designed with the purpose of financing the military and lessening the consequences of international sanctions imposed on Russia following the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
According to analysts, the Kremlin may face potential issues in the future due to record low unemployment, increased wages, and focused social expenditures. However, currently, these factors are allowing the government to allocate a significant portion of its budget towards military funding.
Part of the Russian budget is secret as the Kremlin tries to conceal its military plans and sidestep scrutiny of its military operation in Ukraine. However, it is estimated that around 39% of all federal spending will go to the military and law enforcement, according to independent business journalists Farida Rustamova and Maksim Tovkaylo.
During her visit to Kyiv on Monday, Vice President of the EU Commission, Vera Jourova, commended Ukraine’s efforts in combating corruption. However, she also noted that further actions are necessary for Ukraine to achieve its goal of joining the European Union.
The commission advised that the EU, made up of 27 members, should initiate accession discussions with Ukraine once certain conditions are met, such as improving anti-corruption measures.
Jourova expressed her admiration for the progress made by Ukraine since 2017. Yet, she also noted that there are further actions that need to be taken.
She emphasized the importance for the EU to consider their ability to absorb new members and adjust the system accordingly during the accession process.
Negotiations for membership can be lengthy as aspiring nations must fulfill rigorous legal and financial requirements prior to admission. Additionally, the EU is hesitant to accept nations embroiled in conflict.
James O’Brien, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, informed reporters that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be traveling to Brussels on Monday for a NATO meeting. During the meeting, Blinken will reaffirm NATO’s commitment to supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas, along with fears of its spread in the Middle East, has sparked doubts about whether the United States can continue providing the same level of military and diplomatic aid to Ukraine that it has offered since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
When questioned about a news story from Germany’s Bild newspaper claiming that the US and Germany were subtly encouraging Kyiv to engage in talks with Moscow, O’Brien stated that the US does not have such a stance.
He stated that it is Ukraine’s responsibility to make the decision.
Germany is attempting to prevent an economic downturn caused by expensive energy and escalating prices following Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
The governing coalition in Berlin revealed a supplementary budget on Monday, which will temporarily remove a self-imposed limit on borrowing. This will enable them to access an additional 45 million euros.
The budget, requiring approval from parliament, will result in Germany suspending its constitutionally mandated debt limit for the fourth consecutive year.
Polish blockade continues
At the present time, a group of Polish truck drivers and farmers have initiated a continuous blockade at a major border crossing with Ukraine. This action, which began on Monday, has caused over a thousand trucks to be stuck for multiple days in long lines that span several miles.
The truck drivers, currently obstructing the Medyka border crossing along with three other crossings, are demonstrating against being overshadowed by Ukrainian competitors. These competitors are able to provide lower prices for services and goods within the European Union.
Ukraine’s exports, including grain and other goods, are on the rise in the Black Sea. This is due to a rise in the number of ships utilizing Ukraine’s ports through a recently established, secure shipping route, guarded by the military.
Although the path is still at risk from Russian assaults and dangerous landmines, the growing exports are providing a positive impact on Ukraine’s economy, which heavily relies on agriculture.
Additionally, it is reintroducing a crucial supply of wheat, corn, barley, sunflower oil, and other reasonably priced food items for regions in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia where there has been a rise in local prices and a growing concern for food insecurity.
According to Munro Anderson, head of operations at Vessel Protect, a company that evaluates war risks at sea and offers insurance through Lloyd’s, the world’s largest insurance marketplace, there is a growing sense of assurance among commercial operators who are interested in transporting grain from Ukraine.
Over a thousand artifacts from the Scythian civilization, dating back to the 7th century B.C., have been returned to Ukraine from museums in Russian-occupied Crimea. This follows a legal battle over ownership rights. The artifacts were on loan in the Netherlands when Russia annexed Crimea, and have now been returned after nearly a decade, according to the National Museum of History of Ukraine on Monday.
The museum had previously announced that the collection would remain in storage until Crimea is no longer occupied.
Part of the content for this article was sourced from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters.