The Strategist

SIPRI: Military expenditures are growing in the world

04/29/2019 - 11:49

The United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France are spending more on arms purchases than all the rest of the world combined, according to a new SIPRI report.

The sum of 1 trillion 822 billion dollars was spent in 2018 on armaments around the world. This is 2.6% more than a year earlier, says the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in its new report, published on Monday, April 29.

The growth of US military spending is most impressive. The United States spends on armaments more than any other country in the world — in 2018, their military spending amounted to almost as much as the states that ranked second to eighth in the rankings. "This year's growth by 4.6% is the first growth in seven years," said Nan Tian, SIPRI project leader. "The United States is implementing a comprehensive modernization program for its army and has already begun the implementation. In the next 20 years, according to our estimates, the United States will spend $ 1.8 trillion on both conventional and nuclear weapons."

Eastern Europe is concerned

The SIPRI report states the top five in arms spending in 2018 is occupied by the USA, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France. Russia ranked sixth and for the first time in 12 years is not in the top 5. However, according to Tian, this can be explained by the fact that the numbers in the SIPRI report are in US dollars. “The fact that Russian military spending fell by 3.5% was solely due to inflation,” the expert points out. “If we take the ration in rubles, the same amount was spent as a year earlier.” At that, the report indicates that Russia's spending on armaments has been declining since 2016.

Russian military spending is causing concern in neighboring European countries, the SIPRI report says. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine contributes to a tense situation and an increase in military spending. Ukraine spent on arms 4.8 billion dollars in the last year, which is 21% more than a year earlier. Countries such as Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Poland in 2018 also significantly increased their military spending to counter the perceived threat from the dangerous neighbor.

France, Great Britain and Germany represent Western Europe in the top ten countries with the largest military spending in the world. Germany also increased spending in 2018, and the federal government intends to bring it to 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. Its current share is 1.2%, while the United States, the NATO partner of Germany, is demanding an increase in military spending to two percent of GDP.

China is gaining momentum

The PRC occupies the undisputed second place in the global rating of spending on arms. In 2018, Beijing spent $ 250 billion on modernization of its army - over the past ten years, the military budget has grown by 83%.

“I would not call it an arms race, but these countries spend more money and modernize the army, switching to a new and more powerful weapon. These weapons are often very expensive,” the expert points out. The new arsenal includes autonomous weapons systems, cyber weapons and increasingly common biological weapons. SIPRI recently warned about rapid development of new technologies for the production of biological weapons at a conference held at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

Deliveries to Saudi Arabia will continue

Despite a fall in oil prices and a cut in weapons costs by 6.5%, Saudi Arabia last year ranked third in the current SIPRI ranking. The oil-producing state spends 67.6 billion dollars on armaments, being the largest importer of weapons in the world and a welcome guest in offices of international arms manufacturing companies.

The government of Germany introduced into the coalition agreement a clause to stop the export of weapons to Riyadh because of participation of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen. After the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government imposed a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia in November 2018, but its implementation is associated with serious difficulties. Many German weapons systems are manufactured in cooperation with partners in other countries where Berlin cannot impose an export ban.

India and Pakistan, the sworn enemies 

India has increased military spending for the fifth year in a row and is fourth in the SIPRI ranking. With a score of $ 66.5 billion, the country spends almost six times as much on armaments than its neighbor and sworn enemy Pakistan. The two nuclear powers continue to modernize the army, and the situation in Kashmir, the region that has become the subject of confrontation between the two countries, remains unpredictable and risky for the entire region.

In Asia, the cost of armaments is growing significantly. According to the SIPRI report, this trend has continued for the past 30 years, while the costs of China, India, Japan and South Korea, which are in the top ten of the ranking, have further enhanced the tendency.

Africa: oil for weapons

Arms purchases in African countries have been falling for several years in a row. It is especially striking that in 2018 four countries in the north of the continent spent more on this purpose than 45 countries to the south of the Sahara. Examples of some states are particularly impressive. Sudan reduced military purchases by 49%, Angola - by 18%. However, we must carefully handle these figures, warns Nan Tian. "There are suggestions that Sudan spends a lot of funds taken not from the state budget, and therefore we cannot track them. There are programs in which the profits from oil sales go directly to the military, but civil society representatives cannot prove it," the expert says. In addition to Sudan, similar schemes can be used in South Sudan and Angola.

239 dollars per person on Earth

The report does not take into account costs of covert operations, since the report and the corresponding database are created on the basis of information taken exclusively from public and official sources. We must assume that the actual expenditures on armaments exceed those 1822 billion dollars that SIPRI counted. But if we proceed from this amount, then for every inhabitant of the Earth there are 239 dollars spent on weapons. "For many people, this amounts to 60% of annual income at the current poverty line of one dollar a day," emphasizes Nan Tian, who runs the SIPRI project on analyzing annual weapons costs.