World military spending increased by 3.7% last year, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released earlier this year. The arms control and disarmament research organization noted that by far the largest driver of the global increase was the escalation of tensions in Europe, the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For comparison, arms spending increased 0.7% in 2021.
Among European nations, military spending rose by 13% last year alone, the greatest increase in weapons spending in the region since the end of the Cold War.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has caused both Russia and Ukraine’s allies in NATO and elsewhere to dramatically ramp up military spending. NATO’s latest annual budget, approved at the end of last year, represented a 25.8% annual increase in military spending. But there are a number of nations outside of Europe dramatically increasing spending as well. (Also, comparing Russia and NATO’s military strength.)
To determine the world military powers ramping up military spending the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest data on military expenditure from SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Database. Of the 40 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2022, 24/7 Wall St. ranked the 27 nations that increased military expenditure from 2021 to 2022.
Out of 27 countries on this list, 12 are members of NATO. Notably, Belgium, Netherlands, and Poland — which is Ukraine’s closest European neighbor and a country worried where Russia might go next — increased military spending by more than 10% last year. Also on this list are Russia, which increased spending by 9.2%, and Ukraine, which unsurprisingly reported the largest increase in military spending in both percentage and dollar terms.
In 2021, SIPRI estimated that Ukraine spent $5.9 billion on its military. Last year, that figure increased to $44.0 billion, a 640% increase – the highest ever recorded by a single country since SIPRI began tracking military budget data. That increase of roughly $38 billion was easily more than three times that of the nation with the second-largest increase, China. China, a nation with 30 times more people than Ukraine’s, spent 47 times Ukraine’s military budget in 2020. By 2022, Ukraine’s weapons spending ballooned to one-sixth that of the Chinese military budget, and a little more than half of Russia’s. (See also: Comparing Russian and Ukrainian weapons and vehicle losses in the war so far.)
The U.S. military budget increased by a relatively modest 0.7%, less on a percentage basis than its main rivals, Russia and China (+4.2%). Still, the U.S. remains by far the largest military power on Earth, and with a $877 billion military budget, the U.S. spends more than twice the combined military spending of Russia and China in 2022. (See: the size of the U.S. military every year since the Korean War.)
Click here to see nations ramping up military spending the most.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.
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