Global military spending rose to a record last year as Russia’s war in Ukraine drove the biggest annual increase in expenditure in Europe since the end of the Cold War three decades ago, a leading conflict and armaments think tank said on Monday. World military expenditure rose by 3.7% in real terms in 2022 to $2.24 trillion, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a statement.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February last year following years of growing tensions, has prompted European countries to rush to bolster their defences. Moscow says its “special military operation” was necessary to safeguard it against what it sees as a hostile and aggressive West. Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is waging an unprovoked war aimed at grabbing territory.
European military spending shot up 13% last year, primarily due to increases by Russia and Ukraine, but with many countries across the continent also ramping up military budgets and planning for more amid the surging tensions. “This included multi-year plans to boost spending from several governments,” SIPRI Senior Researcher Diego Lopes da Silva said. “As a result, we can reasonably expect military expenditure in Central and Western Europe to keep rising in the years ahead.”
Ukraine’s military spending rose 640% in 2022, the largest annual increase recorded in SIPRI data going back to 1949, with that total not including the vast amounts of financial military aid provided by the West. SIPRI estimated that military aid to Ukraine from the United States accounted for 2.3% of total U.S. military spending in 2022. Though the United States was the world’s top spender by far its overall expenditure rose only marginally in real terms.
Meanwhile, Russia’s military spending grew by an estimated 9.2%, though SIPRI acknowledged figures were “highly uncertain given the increasing opaqueness of financial authorities” since its war in Ukraine began. “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 Lucie Beraud-Sudreau, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
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