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New Way of Counting Tanks Gives Putin’s Economy an Instant Boost

  • New methodology boosts impact from military spending
  • Revision of 2015 result seen driven by binge of arms-buying
Photographer: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s been the longest recession of the last two decades, but thanks mostly to a new way of counting the Kremlin’s weapons spending, Russia’s statistics service says the contraction hasn’t been nearly as bad as originally reported.

New government data this week showed the economy contracted only 0.2 percent last year -- much less than the 0.5 percent expected by many economists. In 2015, when the hit from falling oil prices and Western sanctions was most intense, the decline was also less severe, at 2.8 percent, according to the statistics service. That’s an improvement of about 2.4 trillion rubles ($39 billion) from the initial reading.