Ukraine war boosts military spending in Europe to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War
The war between Russia and Ukraine has had a significant global impact, for example on the increase in military spending. In 2022, arms spending globally grew for the eighth consecutive year to reach historical high of $2.24 trillion.while Europe recorded data similar to those at the end of the Cold War, according to new data on world military spending published Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Spain, for its part, increased its military spending by 7.3% year-on-year in 2022.to some 18.5 billion euros. This figure, which is equivalent to 1.5% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP), places it as the sixteenth country that spent the most on armaments last year.
Europe was the continent that experienced the largest year-on-year increase (+13%), returning to. levels not seen since the end of the Cold War.. Military aid to Ukraine, concerns about the increased Russian threat and tensions in East Asia are cited as the main factors that significantly influenced the spending decisions of many countries.
This investment in the Central and Western European states. amounted to $345 billion in 2022. Thus, spending by European countries exceeded for the first time that of 1989, when the Cold War ended, and was 30% higher than in 2013. United Kingdom was the country with the highest military spending. in Central and Western Europe, with $68.5 billion, 3.6% of which corresponded to financial military aid provided to Ukraine.
Worldwide, United States, China and Russia were the three countries that spent the most in 2022, accounting for 56% of the global total. Meanwhile, in Europe, the steepest increases were recorded in Finland (+36%), Lithuania (+27%), Sweden (+12%) and Poland (+11%).
“Immediate impact on military spending”
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 several countries significantly increased their military spending, while others announced plans to raise spending levels over periods of up to a decade. “The invasion of Ukraine had an immediate impact on military spending decisions in Central and Western Europe which included multi-year plans for increased spending by several governments,” says Dr. Diego Lopes da Silva, senior research fellow in SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program. “As a result, it is reasonable to expect military spending in Central and Western Europe to continue to rise in the coming years.”
It is estimated that the Russian military spending to grow by 9.2% in 2022.to about $86.4 billion, equivalent to 4.1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in the same year. Figures released by Russia at the end of 2022 already showed that national defense spending was 34% higher, in nominal terms, than in the budget plans drawn up the previous year.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the war, Ukraine reached $44 billion in 2022. At 640%, this is the largest increase in a country’s military spending in a single year ever recorded by SIPRI data.
United States, 39% of world military spending.
Other countries also significantly increased their military spending. This is the case of the United States, which remains by far the world’s largest, the country that spends the most on defense. Its military spending reached US$877 billion in 2022, which accounts for 39% of total world military spending. and three times more than the amount spent by countries such as China, the world’s second largest spender. This 0.7% increase in U.S. spending would have been even higher had it not been for high levels of inflation.
“The increase in U.S. military spending in 2022 is largely explained by the unprecedented level of financial military assistance provided by Ukraine,” says Dr. Nan Tian, senior research fellow at SIPRI. “Given the magnitude of U.S. spending, even a minor increase in percentage terms has a significant impact on the level of global military spending.”
U.S. military financial assistance to Ukraine amounted to $19,900 in 2022. Although this was the largest amount of military aid given by any country to a single recipient in any year since the Cold War. This represented only 2.3% of total U.S. military spending.
China, second highest military spender
In Asia and Oceania, military spending is not far behind the rest of the countries either, it was $575 billion in 2022. This was 2.7% more than in 2021 and 45% more than in 2021. In this category it is China that stands out, being the second highest military spender in the world, allocating some $292 billion to this item, up 4.2% from the previous year. China’s military spending has increased for 28 consecutive years.
Japan’s spending, meanwhile, increased by 5.9% between 2021 and 2022, reaching $46 billion, or 1.1% of its GDP. This was the highest level of Japanese military spending since 1960.