STOCKHOLM: Global military spending rose again in 2021, setting new records as Russia continued to bolster its military ahead of the Ukraine invasion, researchers said on Monday (April 25), predicting the trend would continue in Europe in particular.
Despite the economic fallout from the global COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world increased their arsenals and global military spending rose 0.7% last year, according to a report by the International Peace Research Institute. from Stockholm (Sipri).
“In 2021, military spending increased for the seventh time in a row, reaching 2.1 trillion dollars. That is the highest figure we have ever had,” Diego Lopes da Silva, principal investigator at Sipri, told AFP.
Russia’s spending grew 2.9 percent, the third consecutive year of growth, to $65.9 billion.
Defense spending represented 4.1 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP), “much higher than the world average,” and made Moscow the fifth-biggest spender in the world, Lopes da Silva said. .
High oil and gas revenues helped the country boost military spending. Lopes da Silva pointed out that Russia experienced a strong rebound in spending towards the end of the year.
“That happened when Russia built up troops along the Ukrainian border before, of course, the invasion of Ukraine in February,” the researcher said.
It is difficult to predict whether Russia will be able to sustain its spending, Lopes da Silva said, due to the wave of sanctions imposed by the West in response to the aggression in Ukraine.
In 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, the country also came under sanctions at the same time energy prices fell, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of sanctions alone.
“Now… we have even tougher sanctions, that’s for sure, but we have higher energy prices that can help Russia keep military spending at that level,” Lopes da Silva said.
On the other hand, Ukraine’s military spending has increased by 72 percent since the annexation of Crimea. While spending fell by more than eight percent in 2021 to US$5.9 billion, it still accounted for 3.2 percent of Ukraine’s GDP.