Cover: Sitting on bayonets : the Soviet defense burden and the slowdown of Soviet defense spending

Sitting on bayonets : the Soviet defense burden and the slowdown of Soviet defense spending

by Abraham S. Becker

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Abstract

In order to understand the slowdown in Soviet military expenditures in recent years, this report examines Soviet official figures and various independent Western estimates of the level and trend of Soviet military outlays and their share in national output, and it explores in part the sharp disagreements among the Western estimates on the true levels and rates of change of these expenditures. The author discusses various explanations for the slowdown--technical problems, economic bottlenecks, policy decisions--and concludes that economic issues were at stake, with or without accompanying revision of doctrine. He suggests that in the near future, Moscow is likely to continue to avoid the strains of intensified military spending by constraining the security threat through political and diplomatic action.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation joint report soviet series. The joint report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1988 to 1993 that included documents published jointly with other organizations, which transmitted major research findings and final research.

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