SIPRI report: World military spending hits record high

The Russian war of aggression is reflected in the figures from the peace research institute SIPRI.

According to this, countries around the world spent more money on weapons in 2022 than ever before – especially in Europe.

The contrast couldn’t be greater: blue sky, the many small islands in the Stockholm archipelago, red wooden houses. In this idyll, military helicopters are circling, shots are being fired. The largest military exercise in 25 years is currently taking place in Sweden – together with American, British and other armed forces. The security situation has changed massively. This is also reflected in the figures from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Once again, states have invested a new record amount in spending on the military worldwide: 2.2 trillion US dollars. Europe is the region where the researchers were able to determine the largest increase compared to the same period last year: 13 percent. The war in Ukraine has boosted spending, according to SIPRI analyst Lucie Beraud-Sudreau.

“The threat to Russia will not go away,” says Beraud-Sudreau. “Even if the war in Ukraine ends at some point – in this year, next year or in two years.” Europe agrees that the military must be expanded and modernized “in order to be able to deter Russia in the long term.”

Highest spending in Europe in Ukraine and Russia

In the past year, it was above all the two warring parties that contributed to the large increase in military spending in Europe: According to calculations by the Stockholm peace researchers, Russia increased its spending to an estimated 4.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Ukraine, on the other hand, invested 34 percent of its own GDP.

Along with Great Britain, Germany is considered the largest donor country in Europe for military aid to Ukraine. In the global ranking of military spending, the Federal Republic is still in seventh place. The special fund for the Bundeswehr of 100 billion euros, which was decided last year, will only make itself felt in the expenditure in the coming years. Then Germany would probably move up in the ranking.

“Also interesting is the promise of the German government to meet NATO’s famous two percent target. Had Germany achieved this target in 2022, it would now be in the top five and number one in Europe. That target would be Germany so really take it to the upper echelons.”

“More and more countries are only looking at themselves”

The United States continues to lead global spending, followed by China, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia. The Stockholm peace researchers believe that the time for savings is over. Even though they traditionally only evaluate what happened in the past year, SIPRI’s Beraud-Sudreau is concerned about the future.

“The increased spending on defense is reflected in the increase in conflicts in the world,” said the political scientist. This in turn would result in a loss of trust between states. “More and more countries only look at themselves or their own region. People feel they have to protect themselves from threats.”

It seems certain that military spending will continue to rise in the future. In a year, the Stockholmers will publish new figures.

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