The conflict in Ukraine fuelled increased military spending and by 2022 the figure reached $2.24 trillion, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The countries that spent the most on armaments and equipment were the United States, China and Russia.
Global military investment reached an all-time high in 2022. With the war in Ukraine, several states decided to increase their defence spending or assured that they would allocate more resources to arming themselves, amid increasingly complex geopolitical scenarios.
“The continued rise in global military spending in recent years is a sign that we live in an increasingly insecure world. States are building up their military forces in response to the deteriorating security environment, which they do not expect to improve in the near future, said NanTian, a senior researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
And the numbers are rising for the two main actors in the conflict in Eastern Europe. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report estimates that Russia’s military spending grew by 9.2 percent last year to $86.4 billion, equivalent to 4.1 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2022 and 34 percent more than the country’s projected national budget.
On the other hand, Ukraine’s figures soared to unprecedented highs. In 2022, its military spending reached $44 billion, a 640% increase over 2021 and what translates as the largest increase in a country’s military spending in a single year ever recorded by SIPRI data.
The US, in addition to being the world’s largest economy, is also the world’s biggest military spender, with figures that seem hard to match even for the second-and third-placed countries.
By 2022, the US will reach $877 billion in military spending, almost 40 percent of global spending and at least three times the amount spent by China, which accumulates $292 billion and ranks second.
In 2022, US financial aid to Ukraine amounted to $19.9 billion, the largest amount of such aid granted to a single country in any year since the Cold War.
But while the US investment was titanic, it actually represents only 2.3 percent of the country’s total spending, meaning that Washington invested domestically in many other military scenarios for its own benefit and security.
“The US spent $295 billion on military operations and maintenance, $264 billion on procurement and research and development, and $167 billion on military personnel,” the report reads.
Behind the US and China come Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia, the latter with a 16% increase and 2022 is enshrined as the first increase in military spending since 2018.
Although the US takes first place in this ranking, it is the countries of Central and Western Europe that added the most to bring the world above $2.4 trillion in military spending in 2022.
The countries where military investment in this region increased the most were Finland (+36%), Lithuania (+27%), Sweden (+12%), and Poland (+11%), while the UK, Germany, and France are the only European countries in the top 10 of the world’s biggest spenders.
“Military spending by Central and Western European states amounted to $345 billion in 2022. In real terms, spending by these countries exceeded that of 1989, when the Cold War was ending, for the first time, and was 30 percent higher than in 2013,” SIPRI highlights.
Among other aspects, the report highlights the third consecutive year of falling military spending in Turkey, which in 2022 reduced military spending to 26 percent less than in 2021, as well as the 88 percent increase in Ethiopia, just as a government offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the north of the country was renewed.