Kazakhstan boosts defence spending: $1.5 billion allocated in 2023

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Astana, Kazakhstan — In a notable development, Kazakhstan’s defense expenditures surged by 6.8%, reaching 715.7 billion tenge (equivalent to $1.5 billion) during the period from January to August this year. This substantial allocation represents a 57.6% execution level of the adjusted 2023 sector budget, as media reported.

The Kazakh government had originally planned to allocate over 1.2 trillion tenge (approximately $2.5 billion) from the state budget for defense in 2023—an 11.6% increase compared to the previous year. Despite this boost, Kazakhstan’s military expenditures remain significantly lower than those of other Central Asian countries.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Kazakhstan’s military spending accounts for only 0.5% of GDP, in stark contrast to neighboring nations. For instance, the Kyrgyz Republic allocates 1.5% of its GDP to defense, while Tajikistan’s figure stands at 1%. Unfortunately, data for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are not available.

On a global scale, the three countries with the largest military expenditures collectively represent 56% of global military spending. The United States, as the world’s largest spender, allocates 3.5% of its GDP to defense. China’s military spending is at 1.6% of its GDP, and Russia’s stands at a robust 4.1%.

Last year witnessed significant shifts in military spending: Israel allocated 4.5% of its GDP, while Ukraine experienced a dramatic surge from 3.2% in 2021 to 33.5% in 2022, reflecting the intensity of regional conflicts.

Meanwhile, within Kazakhstan itself, capital investments in public administration, defense, and mandatory social security have seen substantial growth—totaling 98.8 billion tenge (approximately $210.2 million) from January to September this year—an increase both in monetary terms and real terms compared to the same period in 2022.