In its latest report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said total global military spending rose 0.7 percent in real terms in 2021 to $2,113 billion.
“The top five donors in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia, which together accounted for 62 percent of spending,” it said.
According to the report, global military spending continued to grow in 2021, hitting an all-time high of $2.1 trillion.
This is the seventh year in a row that military spending has increased, it said.
“Even amid the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, global military spending has reached record levels,” said Dr. Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher at the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program.
“Real growth slowed due to inflation. In nominal terms, however, military spending increased by 6.1 percent,” according to the report by the Stockholm-based defense think tank.
As a result of a strong economic recovery in 2021, the global military burden – global military spending as a percentage of global gross domestic product (GDP) – fell by 0.1 percentage point from 2.3 percent in 2020 to 2.2 percent in 2021.
According to the report, U.S. military spending in 2021 was $801 billion, down 1.4 percent from 2020.
The US military burden fell slightly from 3.7 percent of GDP in 2020 to 3.5 percent in 2021.
US spending on military research and development (R&D) increased 24 percent between 2012 and 2021, while spending on defense procurement fell 6.4 percent over the same period.
In 2021, spending for both went down. However, the decline in R&D expenditure (-1.2 percent) was less than in defense procurement expenditure (-5.4 percent).
“The increase in R&D spending over 2012-21 suggests that the United States is focusing more on next-generation technologies,” said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Weapons Production program.
“The U.S. government has repeatedly emphasized the need to maintain the U.S. military’s technological edge over strategic competitors.”
Meanwhile, Russia increased its military spending by 2.9 percent to $65.9 billion in 2021 while building up its armed forces along the Ukrainian border, the SIPRI report said.
This was the third consecutive year of growth, and Russia’s military spending reached 4.1 percent of GDP in 2021.
“High oil and gas revenues helped Russia increase its military spending in 2021. Russian military spending had declined between 2016 and 2019 due to low energy prices coupled with sanctions in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea,” said Lucie Beraud-Sudreau, director of SIPRI’s military spending and arms production program.
The national defense budget line, which accounts for about three-quarters of Russia’s total military spending and includes both operational and arms procurement funding, was revised upwards during the year.
The final figure was $48.4 billion, 14 percent more than budgeted at the end of 2020.
As it has beefed up its defenses against Russia, Ukraine’s military spending has increased by 72 percent since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Spending fell to $5.9 billion in 2021 but still accounted for 3.2 percent of the country’s GDP.
China, the world’s second-largest donor, allocated an estimated $293 billion for its military in 2021, up 4.7 percent from 2020, the report said.
China’s military spending has increased for 27 straight years.
China’s 2021 budget is the first under the 14th five-year plan, which runs to 2025, the report said.
India’s military spending rose to $76.6 billion in 2021, up 0.9 percent from 2020 figures, it said.
“India’s military spending of $76.6 billion in 2021 was the third highest in the world. Its spending increased by 0.9 percent from 2020 and by 33 percent from 2012,” the Stockholm-based defense think-tank said in the report.
After first approving its 2021 budget, the Japanese government increased military spending by $7.0 billion, the report said, adding that spending grew 7.3 percent as a result to $54.1 billion a year 2021, the highest annual increase since 1972.
Eight members of the European North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have met the alliance’s goal of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on their armed forces in 2021. That’s one percent less than in 2020, but more than two percent in 2014.
Germany, the third-biggest donor in Central and Western Europe, spent $56.0 billion, or 1.3 percent of its GDP, on its military in 2021. Military spending was down 1.4 percent compared to 2020, due to inflation, the report added.
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