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Global military spending reaches new record high, report claims

Total global military spending has reached an all-time record high, a new report has claimed.

The new data was published this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – a group which monitors military spending worldwide.

According to the new figures, global military spending increased by 3.7% in real terms in 2022, reaching a new high of over $2.2 trillion. This was the eighth consecutive year that global arms spending increased.

By far the sharpest rise in spending – over 13% – was seen in Europe, and was largely accounted for by Russian and Ukrainian weapons spending as both countries remain locked in a year-old war. According to SIPRI, “Cold War levels of military expenditure” have returned to Central and Western Europe amid the ongoing conflict, with states in these regions spending a total of $345 billion in 2022 on weapons.

“Several states significantly increased their military spending following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, while others announced plans to raise spending levels over periods of up to a decade,” SIPRI said in a statement.

“The invasion of Ukraine had an immediate impact on military spending decisions in Central and Western Europe,” said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

“This included multi-year plans to boost spending from several governments. As a result, we can reasonably expect military expenditure in Central and Western Europe to keep rising in the years ahead.”

Some of the sharpest increases were seen in Finland (+36%), Lithuania (+27%), Sweden (+12%) and Poland (+11%) – all countries in close proximity to Russia and Ukraine.

What’s more, Finland and Sweden – both historically neutral countries – have made moves to join the Western alliance of NATO since the war’s outbreak, with Finland formally joining the bloc at the end of March this year.

“While the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 certainly affected military spending decisions in 2022, concerns about Russian aggression have been building for much longer,” said Lorenzo Scarazzato, Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

“Many former Eastern bloc states have more than doubled their military spending since 2014, the year when Russia annexed Crimea.”

In addition to all of this, Russian military spending grew by an estimated 9.2% in 2022, to around $86.4 billion. This was equivalent to 4.1% of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022, up from 3.7% of GDP in 2021.

According to SIPRI, figures released by Russia in late 2022 show that spending on national defence, the largest component of Russian military expenditure, was already 34% higher, in nominal terms, than in budgetary plans drawn up in 2021.

“The difference between Russia’s budgetary plans and its actual military spending in 2022 suggests the invasion of Ukraine has cost Russia far more than it anticipated,” said Dr. Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

By comparison, Ukraine’s military spending reached $44.0 billion in 2022 – a 640% increase in military spending in a single year.

According to SIPRI, this was the highest single-year increase in a country’s military expenditure ever recorded by the group.

In addition to all of this, the United States remains the biggest military spender on earth “by far.”

“US military spending reached $877 billion in 2022, which was 39% of total global military spending and three times more than the amount spent by China, the world’s second largest spender,” SIPRI said in a statement.

“The 0.7% real-terms increase in US spending in 2022 would have been even greater had it not been for the highest levels of inflation since 1981.”

“The increase in the USA’s military spending in 2022 was largely accounted for by the unprecedented level of financial military aid it provided to Ukraine,” said Dr Nan Tian, SIPRI Senior Researcher.

“Given the scale of US spending, even a minor increase in percentage terms has a significant impact on the level of global military expenditure.”

The full SIPRI report can be viewed here.


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