The annual Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) military spending data for 2022 has just been issued. Once again, it shows how staggeringly large these figures are. In 2022, expenditures rose 3.7% to $2.24 trillion. The United States held the top spot by far, at $887 billion, three times more than China, which was in the number two spot, and 39% of the world’s total. (See how the world’s top military spenders compare to the United States.)
Military aid to Ukraine helped keep the American number high. Dr. Nan Tian, SIPRI senior researcher, commented, “The increase in the USA’s military spending in 2022 was largely accounted for by the unprecedented level of financial military aid it provided to Ukraine.” That process is not over. The United States will continue to provide aid at a similarly high level in 2023. If the Ukraine war with Russia continues, this likely will go well into 2024.
Military spending in Ukraine also lifted spending in many European countries. Spending by central and western Europe reached $345 billion, which was 30% higher than in 2013. After NATO’s years of inactivity, Ukraine has awakened it quickly.
Small European countries on or near Russia’s border posted surging expenditures. Spending by Finland rose 36% in 2022. The figure for Lithuania rose 27%, while in Sweden it rose 12% and in Poland it was up 11%. Russia made a huge miscalculation when it invaded Ukraine. Finland joined NATO this month. Its border with Russia is 830 miles long. That means Russia has to spread its military across an area that was not a threat until recently. Sweden also has joined NATO, which makes Russia’s military challenge worse.
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Finally, triggered by the Ukraine invasion, Russia’s military spending also has jumped, which may strain its economy. In 2022, it rose 9.2% to $84.6 billion.
The world has become more militarized than at any time in recent history. As China challenges nations in Asia and the United States, its spending hit $292 billion, up 63% from 2013. Tension over the ownership of islands between China and Japan and the Chinese threat to Taiwan will keep spending aggressively rising over the next few years as well.
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