Alexander Deryugin, Researcher of the Budget Policy Department of the Gaidar Institute commented to Davydov.Index on the news that Russia was listed the fifth in top-5 countries as regards R&D expenditures.
“Such international comparisons should be made quite accurately because various expenditures are shown differently in national budgets.   Despite the IMF’s requirement to provide more or less unified and standardized reporting, interpretations of some or other expenditures may differ substantially, anyway, so this factor should be taken into account.
The more so the position which is referred to – R&D (that is civil research and development) – is not included into any specific section of the budget classification. Each section has various components, so expenditures on R&D is a kind of a mix. So, when comparing Russian R&D expenditures with those of other countries it is to be remembered that countries may post such expenditures to other subsections. Further, there is no worldwide unified pattern of budget sections.  
So, the conclusion that Russia is rated the 5th largest spender on R&D because its R&D expenditures are equal to one sum, while other countries’ R&D expenditures, to another one is arbitrary. If we take expenditures on education and healthcare, the accuracy of comparison would be higher, though these expenditures have the specifics of their own: some countries like Russia may also have extra-budgetary funds, while others may not. In other words, questions may arise even regarding these sections, while in case of civil R&D there is no specific section at all, but only components scattered between different sections.
I think this justifies by and large the result. In fact, we are talking about the year 2021.   At present, we could say that import substitution is actively underway and it definitely involves the development of new domestic technologies. Such a situation suggests an increase in R&D expenditures in order to make new technologies feasible. Last year, the situation was different and the pattern of expenditures did not change considerably. 
So, I believe we see the effect caused by different accounting of some or other expenditures. I do not think Russia actually set a record then as regards expenditures on science. As regards the overall volume of expenditures, be it per capita expenditures or overall expenditures without being divided by the number of inhabitants, Russia lags behind many countries. Russia’s budget is not very big because its economy is not big, either. As far as I remember, the Russian economy accounts for a few percent of the global economy. So, I do not believe that Russia can be rated the 5th as regards the size of expenditures. I think it can be justified by the specifics of accounting such expenditures in different countries.”