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World military spending hits all-time high, report finds

April 25, 2022

The US and China spent the most on their military in 2021, accounting for 52% of the total global defense expenditure, according to a new SIPRI report. Russia also saw a spending jump ahead of its invasion of Ukraine.

US soldiers stand next to several tanks in the US state of Idaho
The world's military expenditure grew for the seventh consecutive year to breach the $2.1 trillion mark, the SIPRI report foundImage: U.S. Army/ZUMA Press Wire Service/picture alliance

World military expenditure surpassed the $2 trillion mark (€1.8 trillion) for the first time in 2021, according to a new report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.

Total global defense spending reached $2.113 trillion, which was 0.7% higher than in 2020 and 12% higher than in 2012, according to the peace think tank.

This marked the seventh consecutive year that military spending increased, although the data indicates that the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic did not dampen military costs.

"Even amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels," said Diego Lopes da Silva, a senior researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program.

US, China spend most on military 

The five largest military spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia, which together accounted for 62% of the total spending.

The US and China alone accounted for 52% of the spending, according to SIPRI.

China's spending rose for the 27th consecutive year, to reach $293 billion, while Russia's expenditure grew for the third consecutive year in 2021.

While US spent far more on defense than any other country in 2021, its expenditure dropped compared to prior years. SIPRI said the decline was in part due to an overall decline in US spending on research and development, but added the country remained focused on developing next-generation technologies.

Russia and Ukraine saw boost

Russia's spending in 2021 rose by 2.9% to reach $65.9 billion, or 4.1% of its GDP, the report found.

The Russian boost in spending was aided by higher prices for Russian fuel exports and came at a time it was preparing to invade Ukraine, SIPRI experts said.

Ukraine's military spending has risen by 72% since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. It spent $5.9 billion, or 3.2% of the country's GDP, in 2021.

Infografik Russische Waffenexporte nach Südostasien EN

Germany is third-highest spender in Europe

Total military spending in Europe in 2021 amounted to $418 billion, which was 3% higher than in 2020 and 19% higher than in 2012.

Germany — the third-largest spender after the UK and France — spent $56 billion on its military in 2021, which was 1.3% of its GDP.

Spending also increased in Asia and Oceania by 3.5%, in Europe by 3% and in Africa by 1.2%.

Spending decreased in the Middle East by -3.3% and the Americas by -1.2%.

One of the most notable changes in defense spending came from Iran — where the country's military budget increased for the first time in four years — topping $24.6 billion. Funding for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in particular grew by 14% compared to 2020.

rm/rs (AFP, dpa)

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