«Indeed, one of the most remarkable things about Putin’s ability to continue extending Russia’s global reach is that he’s doing it on a shoe-string budget. The anemic and extraction-reliant economy he’s built is less than 8% the size of the U.S., which spends more than double on defense alone than Russia spends on everything, including education, health care and policing.
Putin, with help from China and other countries, has been building barricades to guard Russia’s economy from the vagaries of the U.S. dollar-dominated financial system and the impact of any additional sanctions. This, coupled with Putin’s tactical abilities in global affairs, allows Russia to keep punching above its weight, according to Dmitri Trenin, head of the Moscow Carnegie Center.
“GDP is not the absolute measure of all things economic,” Trenin said. “Far more important are the basic resilience of the economy; its capacity to absorb powerful shocks; Moscow’s sound finances; its low foreign debt; the Kremlin’s capacity to mobilize in the face of external threats; and the relative abundance of resources Moscow needs to support its foreign policy.”»