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Global military expenditure hits record high with surge in European spending

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Global military spending has hit a new high of $2240 billion, with Europe experiencing its largest year-on-year increase in military expenditure in over 30 years, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Europe saw a 13% increase in military spending in 2022, largely driven by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and influenced by military aid to Ukraine, tensions in East Asia, and concerns about Russia’s threat, says the latest report by SIPRI.

Among the most significant military spending increases in 2022 were seen in Finland, with a 36% surge, followed by Lithuania with 27%, Sweden with 12%, and Poland with 11%.

US remains world’s largest military spender

However, the United States continues to be the world’s biggest spender on defense in 2022 ($877 billion), accounting for 39% of the global total, with China coming in second at 14%. The world’s three biggest military spenders in 2022 – the US, China, and Russia – made up 56% of the total global military expenditure.

The US provided Ukraine with $19.9 billion in financial military aid, the largest amount given by any country to a single beneficiary since the cold war, which was only 2.3% of total US military spending, with $295 billion allocated to military operations and maintenance, $264 billion to procurement and research and development, and $167 billion to military personnel.

Ukraine’s military spending skyrocketed in 2022, reaching a record-breaking $44.0 billion with a 640% surge in expenditure, the highest ever recorded by SIPRI. This resulted in a significant increase in the military burden as a share of GDP, rising from 3.2% in 2021 to 34% in 2022.

Russia’s national defense spending was reportedly 34% higher than planned in 2021. The spending is estimated to have risen by 9.2%, amounting to roughly $86.4 billion, or 4.1% of the country’s GDP, up from 3.7% in 2021.

‘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.’

NATO members’ military spending increases modestly in 2022

Asia-Oceania’s military expenditure hit $575 billion, with China spending $292 billion, Japan $46.0 billion, and experiencing its highest military spending since 1960. Japan’s new national security strategy aims to increase military capability over the decade.

Despite soaring inflation in many countries, nominal global military spending increased by 6.5% in 2022. India’s military spending reached $81.4 billion, Saudi Arabia’s (5th biggest military spender) rose by 16% to $75.0 billion, and Nigeria’s fell by 38% to $3.1 billion.

Meanwhile, NATO members’ military spending totaled $1,232 billion, with the UK leading Central and Western Europe at $68.5 billion, of which $2.5 billion (3.6%) was financial military aid to Ukraine. Turkey’s military spending fell for the third year to $10.6 billion, and Ethiopia’s rose by 88% to $1.0 billion due to a renewed offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.