War in Ukraine drives military spending to new all-time high

Sipri Institute
World military spending at record high: war in Ukraine causes armaments budgets in Europe to swell

A French soldier stands on a Leclerc battle tank during a Franco-American military exercise in Capu Midia, Romania. photo

© Andreea Alexandru/AP/dpa

Global military spending has never been as high as it is in 2022. In Europe, the Ukraine war in particular is responsible for a steep increase. Peace researchers see this as a sign of an increasingly insecure world.

Global military spending has reached a new high. Mainly because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, they rose by 3.7 percent in 2022, adjusted for inflation, to $2.24 trillion (around 2.04 trillion euros), as the Stockholm peace research institute Sipri announced in a new report on Monday. For the eighth year in a row, the countries of the world put more money into the military than in the previous year. Without adjusting for inflation, the increase would even have been 6.5 percent. The USA remains the clear leader, Germany seventh.

“The steady increase in global military spending in recent years is a sign that we live in an increasingly insecure world,” said Sipri researcher Nan Tian. In response to the deteriorating security environment, states have been strengthening their militaries, and they did not expect this environment to change for the better in the near future.

Ukraine War and Russian Threat as Spending Drivers

By far the largest increase in spending was in Europe, with an inflation-adjusted increase of 13 percent, the highest annual increase in the post-Cold War era. This was mainly due to the sharp rise in military spending in Russia and Ukraine, but according to Sipri, military aid to Ukraine and concerns about a stronger threat from Russia also influenced the spending decisions of many other countries.

Concerns about Russia have been building up for a long time. Many former Eastern Bloc countries have more than doubled their military spending since 2014 – the year of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

In 2022, the countries in Central and Western Europe spent a total of 345 billion dollars (315 billion euros) on the military. Adjusted for inflation, they surpassed the year 1989, when the Cold War ended, for the first time. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 had a direct impact on the decisions of these countries, which was reflected in multi-year plans to increase spending, said Sipri expert Diego Lopes da Silva. As a result, further increases can be expected in the coming years.

USA unchallenged at the top – record increase by Ukraine

The United States remains the clear leader in terms of military spending. After a 0.7 percent increase, they ended up spending $877 billion, including $19.9 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This gives them a 39 percent share of global spending and triples that of China (estimated at $292 billion) in second place. Russia increased its military spending by 9.2 percent to an estimated $86.4 billion, jumping from fifth to third place.

India and Saudi Arabia complete the top five, followed by Germany after growth of 2.3 percent with 55.8 billion dollars in seventh place behind Great Britain. With a view to the reported special assets for the Bundeswehr in the amount of 100 billion euros, Sipri expects a significant increase in German military spending in the coming years. At 1.4 percent, Germany is still a long way from the NATO goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. Global military spending was equivalent to 2.2 percent of global gross domestic product.

And Ukraine? The recorded an increase of a whopping 640 percent – the highest that Sipri has ever registered for a country in a single year. With military spending now at $44 billion, not including financial support and armaments donations from abroad, Ukraine suddenly jumps from 36th place to 11th place. after 3.2 percent in 2021.

Tensions also in the Far East

In addition to the Ukraine war, Sipri identified another reason for the global increase: tensions in East Asia. Total military spending in Asia and Oceania rose 2.7 percent, adjusted for inflation, to $575 billion, but more so in China (4.2 percent), India (6.0 percent) and Japan (5.9 percent), the together accounted for nearly three quarters of regional spending.

Japan issued a new security strategy in 2022 to build its military capabilities in light of perceived threats from China, North Korea and Russia over the coming decade. “Japan is experiencing a profound change in its military policy,” noted Sipri expert Xiao Liang.

The annual Sipri report on military spending around the world is considered the world’s most comprehensive collection of data of its kind. The peace researchers also count expenses for personnel, military aid and military research and development among the expenses.


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