Azerbaijan spends six times more in dollar terms. But rival Armenia’s spending is far more painful at home.
Decades into an intractable conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, plentiful oil has allowed Azerbaijan to spend lavishly on upgrading its military. Armenia’s struggle to compete, by contrast, is bleeding its budget.
Between 2009 and 2018 Azerbaijan’s military spending totaled almost $24 billion, according to updated data from the Stockholm International and Peace Research Institute. Armenia spent slightly more than $4 billion in the same period.
As a share of government spending, however, Armenia spends far more. In 2018, according to SIPRI, 21 percent of Armenian government spending was directed toward the military, compared with about 11 percent in Azerbaijan. That is a significant drag in a country where close to 26 percent of people live in poverty.
Sam Bhutia is an economist specializing in the former Soviet Union.