Russia's secret expenses top $110 billion as the Kremlin continues to obscure the costs of its war in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin answers a question about Mikhail Khodorkovsky after his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. AP
  • Russia is obscuring roughly a quarter of its budget for 2023, according to Bloomberg.

  • A draft of its 2023 spending plan includes about 6.5 trillion rubles, or $112 billion, in unspecified spending.

  • The Kremlin continues to further hide its spending and economic data as the war in Ukraine drags on.

A draft of Russia's planned spending for 2023 showed about a quarter of its budget would be marked for unknown use, according to a Bloomberg report, continuing the trend of the Kremlin obscuring economic data as the war in Ukraine drags on.

The budget plan included about 6.5 trillion rubles, or about $112 billion, of classified or unspecified allocations, per Bloomberg calculations. The total budget is about 29 trillion rubles.

The Kremlin has increasingly shrouded its spending and monetary measures since February's invasion, and it has stopped publicizing economic details such as trade breakdowns.

"We have closed off a lot of things right now," Anton Siluanov, Russia's finance minister, said during an online media session on Wednesday, adding that the cost of the "special operation" in Ukraine will remain hidden.

According to The Audit Chamber, a budgetary watchdog group, Moscow spent approximately 19% on classified items in its budget. Last year, it was at a record-low of 14.9%, according to Russian media cited by Bloomberg.

What is revealed in the budget, however, is an uptick in military spending. If the draft is implemented, defense spending would climb 43% above expectations.

Meanwhile, officials announced this week that Russia will formally annex four Ukrainian regions, with President Vladimir Putin set to hold a formal ceremony on Friday. The secret spending portions of the budget plan could account for some maneuvers in the annexation process.

All together, the regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia — make up about 15% of Ukraine's territory, according to Reuters. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would never recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia.

"We are prepared and we will impose additional severe and swift costs on Russia for proceeding with the annexation," Blinken said.

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