Global military spending rose by $2.4trn in 2023 – study

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Military spending is soaring across the globe, with particularly large increases recorded in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday. Total global military expenditure was up 6.8% in real terms last year, reaching an all-time high of $2.4 trillion.

The figure marks the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009, the report shows, with the top three spenders last year being the United States, China, and Russia.

The US, which spends more on defense than any other nation, ramped up expenditure by 2.3% to $916 billion, representing 68% of total NATO military spending.

China allocated an estimated $296 billion to its military in 2023. With an increase of 6% from 2022, the country accounted for half of total military spending across Asia and Oceania.

The report indicated that the Ukraine conflict has led to an increase in spending not only by Kiev and Moscow, but also by “a whole host” of European countries.

Russia’s outlays rose 24% to an estimated $109 billion in 2023, according to SIPRI. The country’s spending on its armed forces made up 16% of the total government budget and its military burden (military spending as a share of gross domestic product) was 5.9%.

Ukraine was the eighth largest spender in 2023, after a surge of 51% to $64.8 billion. SIPRI noted that the country also received $35 billion in military aid, with most of it coming from the US, meaning the combined aid and spending equaled over nine tenths of Russia’s.

Ukraine’s defense expenditure equaled 37% of GDP and 58% of the government budget, SIPRI said, adding that the room for a further increase is now “very limited.”

The study found that in 2023 NATO’s then 31 members accounted for $1.3 trillion, equal to 55% of the world’s military expenditure. In Europe, Poland had the largest increase by far, up by 75% to $31.6 billion.

“For European NATO states, the past two years of war in Ukraine have fundamentally changed the security outlook,” said Lorenzo Scarazzato, a researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. “This shift in threat perceptions is reflected in growing shares of GDP being directed towards military spending, with the NATO target of 2% increasingly being seen as a baseline rather than a threshold to reach.”

The report also highlighted that geopolitical tensions in the Middle East have fueled the biggest defense spending increases of the past decade. Estimated regional military expenditure increased by 9% to $200 billion in 2023. Israel’s budget —the second largest in the region after Saudi Arabia—jumped by 24% to $27.5 billion last year, SIPRI concluded.