Arms imports doubled in Europe in 2022

The war in Ukraine has strongly revived arms imports to the Old Continent. Kyiv has become the world’s third destination. Arms imports into Europe have almost doubled in 2022, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) published on Monday. With a surge of 93% over one year, imports have also increased due to the increase in military spending in several European states such as Poland and Norway, which should accelerate further, according to this reference study.

“The invasion has really caused a significant surge in the demand for arms in Europe, which has not yet shown its full power and will in all likelihood lead to further increases in imports”, underlines Pieter Wezeman, co-author of the annual report for more than three decades. Excluding Ukraine, the increase in European imports still reached 35% in 2022, according to data from Sipri.

Kyiv’s imports increased by more than 60

Ukraine, hitherto a negligible arms importer, suddenly became the world’s third largest arms destination last year, behind Qatar and India, as a direct result of Western aid to fend off the Russian invasion. The country alone concentrated 31% of arms imports in Europe and 8% of world trade, according to data sent by Sipri to AFP as part of its annual report.

kyiv’s imports, including Western donations, have increased more than 60 times in 2022, according to the Stockholm-based institute. For most of the second-hand equipment, deliveries to Ukraine include around 230 American artillery pieces, 280 Polish armored vehicles or even more than 7,000 British anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft systems, new this time, the Sipri list. To establish its rankings on the world arms trade, the institute favors units of value that are specific to it, rather than dollars or euros.

Spectacular acceleration in Europe

If it is difficult to quantify because of the opacity of many contracts, the world arms trade exceeds 100 billion dollars annually, according to experts. For a total amount of military expenditure which for the first time exceeded 2,000 billion dollars in 2021, according to Sipri. The jump in European imports was expected due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

But it is spectacularly accelerating an upward trend on the Old Continent, a consequence of the rearmament that began several years ago after the annexation of Crimea by Moscow, and which is now accelerating at high speed. or plan to do so all types of armament. Submarines, fighter planes, including drones, anti-tank missiles, guns and radars,” emphasizes Pieter Wezeman. “Everything is examined, because the idea is to strengthen military capabilities across the spectrum.”

Europe is progressing more than all the other continents

Over the last five years (2018-2022), the period favored by Sipri to identify trends, European imports have increased by 47% compared to the previous five years, while world trade has declined by 5%. Unlike Europe, all the other continents show a decline in imports over five years, with a marked drop in Africa (-40%), North and South America (-20%) and even in Asia ( -7%) and in the Middle East (-9%), the world’s leading markets.

Another major change: according to data from Sipri, the Middle East has become in 2022 the first destination area for arms exports last year, with 32% of the world total. It doubles Asia-Oceania (30%), which had held first place for years and Europe, at 27%, against less than 11% ten years ago.

United States, Russia and France on the podium of exporters

China is arming itself en masse but increasingly producing its weapons locally, which tends to reduce exports to Asia, according to Sipri. In addition to Qatar (10% of the total), India (9%) and Ukraine (8%), Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (7% each) and Pakistan (5%) were major importers.

As for exporters, the world top 5 for the last five years is still provided by the United States (40%), then Russia (16%), France (11%), China (5%) and Germany ( 4%), or between them three quarters of the total. But the American and French shares have increased markedly, while those of the other three have declined.

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