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Army Spending in Europe Highest Since Cold War

STOCKHOLM: Europe’s military spending grew at a record pace in 2022, reaching a level unseen since the Cold War following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global security researchers said on Monday.

The increase in Europe helped global military expenditures reach an eighth straight record at $2.24 trillion, or 2.2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said.

“It’s driven by the war in Ukraine, [which is] driving European budget spending upward, but also the unresolved and worsening tensions in East Asia between the United States and China,” researcher Nan Tian, one of the study’s co-authors, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Europe spent 13 percent more on its armies in 2022 than in the previous 12 months, in a year marked by Moscow’s invasion.

The figure does not take into account sharp inflation rates, which means actual spending was even higher, the think tank said.

That was the strongest increase in more than 30 years, and a return, in constant dollars, to the level of spending in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.

“In Europe, it is at its highest level since essentially the end of the Cold War,” Tian said.

Ukraine alone increased its spending sevenfold to $44 billion, or a third of its GDP. The country has additionally benefitted from billions of dollars of weapons donations from abroad, Sipri said.

At the same time, Russian spending rose by 9.2 percent last year, estimates showed.

Even if “you remove the two warring nations, European spending…still increased by quite a lot,” Tian said.

Spending in Europe, which totaled $480 billion last year, has already risen by a third in the past decade, and the trend is expected to continue and even accelerate over the next decade.

The continent could “potentially” see growth levels similar to 2022 for several years, Tian said.

After declining sharply in the 1990s, global military expenditure has been rising since the 2000s.

The upturn was initially the result of China’s massive investments in its military, which was then followed by renewed tensions with Russia after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

US, China account for half

The US alone accounted for 39 percent of global military expenditure. Together with China, which came in second at 13 percent, the two nations accounted for more than half of the world’s army spending.

Those next in line lagged far behind, with Russia at 3.9 percent, India at 3.6 percent and Saudi Arabia at 3.3 percent.

“China has been increasingly investing in its naval forces as a way to expand its reach to Taiwan, of course, then further out than the South China Sea,” Tian said.

Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia are all following the trend.

The United Kingdom is the top spender in Europe, coming in sixth place overall and accounting for 3.1 percent of global expenditures, ahead of Germany at 2.5 percent and France at 2.4 percent — figures that include donations to Ukraine.

The UK, Ukraine’s biggest donor after the US, “spends more than France and Germany. It also gave more military aid than France and Germany,” Tian said.

Countries like Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden were among the European countries that increased their military investments the most in the past decade.

Modern and costly weapons also explain some spending hikes, as in the case of Finland, which purchased 64 US F-35 fighter jets last year.

Source : Manila Times