Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/02/2013 -- In 2013, BMI expects Ukrainian defence spending to increase 0.43% year-on-year (y-o-y) to US$4.67bn, a less-dramatic rise than in recent years but still a massive increase on the recent low of US$3.24bn seen in 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis. The country's economy is currently stagnating in mild recession but received a boost from the influx of foreign tourists visiting in June 2012 when Ukraine cohosted the Euro 2012 international soccer championship with neighbouring Poland. Defence spending accounts for 2.7% of GDP and has done for much of the last decade, a figure that is notably higher than that of most other economically developed nations. Ukraine has been gradually downsizing its total number of military personnel in recent years, however. From a high of 165,000 in 2006, the country had just 139,000 members of its armed forces in 2012. Theoretically, Ukraine has 48.32% of its population available for active service, with 21.6mn men and women from its total population of 45.7mn aged between 16 and 49.
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Ukraine is nevertheless involved in a number of UN peacekeeping operations overseas, notably posting 133 servicemen and 35 vehicles patrolling in Kosovo and 22 servicemen in Afghanistan. It also has a number of personnel posted in an observational capacity in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Liberia.
The country remains reliant on Russia for gas and energy imports but its relationship with its neighbour continues to be fractious. Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine during the harsh Januarys of 2006 and 2009, demanding higher fees, and is not above demonstrating its power over Ukraine in this way to ensure its co-operation in other areas. Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych most recently met in Yalta in July 2012 to discuss the latter's plans for the establishment of a multilateral gas consortium in Europe. The continent currently receives around 20% of its natural gas from Russia, 80% of which passes through Ukrainian pipelines. Yanukovych took the opportunity to say his country's current gas contract with Russia was 'not profitable' and pressed for renegotiations.
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