Global military spending tops $2 trillion for first time as Europe bolsters defenses


STOCKHOLM: Global military spending has topped $2 trillion a year for the first time and is set to rise further as European countries build up their armed forces in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In 2021, countries spent a total of $2.113 billion on their armies, up 0.7% in real terms from the previous year, according to a report released Monday by the International Institute for Humanitarian Research. Stockholm Peace, or SIPRI.
After a brief period of declining military spending between 2011 and 2014, spending has increased for 7 consecutive years, according to SIPRI data. Following the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, several European governments pledged to review their spending to build their force capabilities.
“Europe was already on an upward trend, and this trend will accelerate and intensify,” said Lucie Beraud-Sudreau, director of the Military Expenditure and Arms Production program at SIPRI, during a telephone interview. “Usually change happens slowly, until you’re in crisis, and then change really happens. I think that’s where we are now.
The recovery since 2015 has been fueled in part by higher spending in Europe, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 raised the perceived threat level at the same time as the US administration under Donald Trump increased pressure on NATO allies to spend more on their armed forces, Beraud – says Sudreau.

arms race

European spending in 2021 was 20% of the global total, and China’s defense budget, the world’s second largest, is estimated at 14%.
The United States remains by far the biggest spender, with $801 billion allocated to the armed forces in 2021, according to SIPRI. Over the past decade, US military spending has accounted for up to 39% of global spending. As the country’s arms purchases have dwindled, more funds have gone into military research and development, suggesting that the United States is focusing more on next-generation technologies, according to Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher at the SIPRI.
As European nations from Sweden to Spain pledge to increase their defense budgets, early indications show modernizing and improving weapons systems will be a key priority, Beraud-Sudreau said. . In doing so, they are faced with the choice of prioritizing rapid build-up by purchasing off-the-shelf equipment from arms manufacturers in other parts of the world, or taking a longer-term approach by increasing funding for domestic industry.
However, the purchase of weapons is not the only requirement highlighted by the Russian invasion.
“You see that many of the challenges for Russian forces are related to things like logistics, fuel, tires and secure communications,” she said. “The purchase of this stuff may be less visible, but the situation in Ukraine has shown outside observers how important it is for waging war.”

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