Global Military Spending Hits a Record High of $2.44 Trillion: Report

Countries around the world spent an “all-time high” of $2.44 trillion on their militaries in 2023, according to the latest annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The new figure was a 6.8 percent increase from 2022, the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009, according to the report published on April 22 and written by four researchers at the institute’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program.

The report noted that military spending increased in five geographical regions—Asia and Oceania, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East—for the first time since 2009.

“The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security,” Nan Tian, senior researcher at the institute, said in a statement released by the institute. “States are prioritizing military strength but they risk an action-reaction spiral in the increasingly volatile geopolitical and security landscape.”

The United States was the largest spender, totaling $916 billion last year, a 2.3 percent increase from 2022, according to the report. The United States accounted for 37 percent of the global military expenditure.

China was in second place with $296 billion in military spending, up 6 percent from 2022, the report said, adding that it was the country’s 29th consecutive year-on-year increase in military expenditures. Although China accounted for only 12 percent of the global military expenditure, its spending made up 50 percent of total military spending across Asia and Oceania.

“Several of China’s neighbours have linked their own spending increases to China’s rising military expenditure,” the statement reads.

Two of China’s neighbors, Japan and Taiwan, increased their 2023 military spending by 11 percent from the previous year. In 2023, Japan spent $50.2 billion and Taiwan spent $16.6 billion.

“China is directing much of its growing military budget to boost the combat readiness of the People’s Liberation Army,” Xiao Liang, a researcher at the institute, said in the statement. “This has prompted the governments of Japan, Taiwan and others to significantly build up their military capabilities, a trend that will accelerate further in the coming years.”

Experts have pointed to 2027 as the year that the Chinese regime’s military would be ready for an attack on Taiwan, a self-ruled island with its own democratically elected government and military. Seizing Taiwan would better position the Chinese Communist Party to project its military power in the Pacific.

The report said that “war and tensions” in the Middle East have resulted in the biggest spending increase in the “past decade.”

“Estimated military expenditure in the Middle East increased by 9.0 percent to $200 billion in 2023. This was the highest annual growth rate in the region seen in the past decade,” the statement reads.

Israel accounted for much of the increased spending. According to the report, Israel, the second biggest spender in the region behind Saudi Arabia, spent $27.5 billion last year, up 24 percent from 2022.

“The spending increase was mainly driven by Israel’s large-scale offensive in Gaza in response to the attack on southern Israel by Hamas in October 2023,” the statement reads.

“The large increase in military spending in the Middle East in 2023 reflected the rapidly shifting situation in the region—from the warming of diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab countries in recent years to the outbreak of a major war in Gaza and fears of a region-wide conflict,” Diego Lopes da Silva, a senior researcher at the institute, said in the statement.

Russia ranked third, behind the United States and China, spending $109 billion last year, a 24 percent increase from 2022, according to the report. Meanwhile, Ukraine ranked eighth—India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and Germany were between it and Russia—with $64.8 billion in spending in 2023, up 51 percent from the previous year.

“Ukraine’s military spending in 2023 was 59 percent the size of Russia’s,” the press release reads.

“However, Ukraine also received at least $35 billion in military aid during the year, including $25.4 billion from the USA. Combined, this aid and Ukraine’s own military spending were equivalent to about 91 percent of Russian spending.”


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