Rapid increase in military expenditure attributed to ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and growing global insecurity, as per prominent think tank.
In 2022, global military spending soared to an unprecedented record of $2.24 trillion, with Europe experiencing a significant surge due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a renowned defense think tank. This marked the eighth consecutive year of worldwide spending escalation, as highlighted in SIPRI’s annual report on global military expenditure.
The escalation in military spending in Europe saw an unprecedented 13 percent rise in 2022, the steepest surge in at least three decades, as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). While the majority of this increase was linked to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, other nations also boosted their military expenditures in response to perceived threats from Russia.
According to SIPRI, the continuous upward trend in global military spending is indicative of an increasingly insecure world. States are strengthening their military capabilities in anticipation of a deteriorating security environment that is not expected to improve in the near future, as stated by Nan Tian, senior researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
The invasion and annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, followed by their support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and the full-scale invasion in February 2022, have raised concerns among neighboring countries and those that were once part of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Finland’s military spending surged by 36 percent, and Lithuania’s increased by 27 percent, according to SIPRI. In April, Finland, which shares a 1,340km (833 miles) border with Russia, became the 31st member of NATO, while Sweden, traditionally avoiding military alliances for over 200 years, has also expressed interest in joining.
Lorenzo Scarazzato, a researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme, noted that while the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 certainly impacted military spending decisions, concerns about Russian aggression had been building for a longer period. Many former Eastern bloc states have more than doubled their military spending since 2014, the year of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
SIPRI further revealed that military spending in Ukraine skyrocketed over sixfold to $44 billion in 2022, marking the highest single-year increase in a country’s military expenditure ever recorded in SIPRI’s data.
In 2022, military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) surged to 34 percent, a significant increase from 3.2 percent the previous year, according to SIPRI’s findings.
Russian military spending also grew by an estimated 9.2 percent in 2022, reaching approximately $86.4 billion, equivalent to 4.1 percent of Russia’s GDP for that year, up from 3.7 percent in 2021.
The United States remained the world’s largest military spender, with a 0.7 percent increase to $877 billion in 2022, accounting for 39 percent of the total global military spending. This increase was largely driven by the “unprecedented level of financial military aid” provided to Ukraine, totaling $19.9 billion in 2022, as stated by Nan Tian, a researcher with SIPRI.
China maintained its position as the world’s second-largest military spender, allocating an estimated $292 billion in 2022, which was 4.2 percent higher than the previous year and marked the 28th consecutive annual increase.
Japan also saw a significant rise in military spending, with $46 billion allocated in 2022, a 5.9 percent increase from the previous year. SIPRI noted that this was the highest level of Japanese military spending since 1960.
According to SIPRI, Japan and China were the leading countries in terms of military spending in Asia and Oceania, with a combined total of $575 billion in 2022. Military expenditure in the region has been steadily increasing since at least 1989.
Tensions in East Asia have risen due to various territorial disputes. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and also asserts its sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, which is a major maritime trading route. Other countries in the region, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, also have claims in the South China Sea.
Japan and China are also involved in a dispute over the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands, which are located northeast of Taiwan. Additionally, Japan has a longstanding dispute with Russia over the Northern Territories, which are northeast of Hokkaido and were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Russia refers to them as the Kuril Islands. These disputes contribute to the regional tensions and may be driving the increased military spending in Asia and Oceania.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA