Photo source: Pixabay - Photo: 2024

Rise in Global Military Spending Amidst Two Ongoing Conflicts

By Thalif Deen

NEW YORK | 22 April 2024 (IDN) — The ongoing destructive war between Russia and Ukraine, which has dragged on since February 2014, and the equally devastating six-month-old conflict between Israel and Hamas, have triggered a rise in military expenditures worldwide.

According to the latest figures released on April 22 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), total global military expenditure reached $2,443 billion in 2023, an increase of 6.8 per cent in real terms from 2022.

This was the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009.

The 10 largest spenders in 2023—led by the United States, China and Russia—all increased their military spending, according to the new data on global military spending.

“The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security,” said Nan Tian, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

“States are prioritizing military strength, but they risk an action-reaction spiral in the increasingly volatile geopolitical and security landscape.”

World military expenditure rose for the ninth consecutive year to an all-time high of $2443 billion. For the first time since 2009, military expenditure went up in all five of the geographical regions defined by SIPRI, with particularly large increases recorded in Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the US has provided billions of dollars in weapons to both Ukraine and Israel.

According to the latest State Department report: “To date, we have provided approximately $44.2 billion in military assistance since Russia launched its premeditated, unprovoked, and brutal full-scale invasion against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and more than $47 billion in military assistance since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014.”

“This investment in training and equipment assistance demonstrates our enduring and steadfast commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It supports Ukraine’s efforts defend itself against Russia’s aggression, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO,” the report said.

On US relationship with Israel, the State Department said: “Israel is the leading global recipient of Title 22 U.S. security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.”

This has been formalized by a 10-year (2019-2028) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  Consistent with the MOU, the United States annually provides $3.3 billion in FMF and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defence.

Middle East

Since FY 2009, the United States has provided Israel with $3.4 billion in funding for missile defence, including $1.3 billion for Iron Dome support starting in FY 2011.

Through FMF, the United States provides Israel with access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Lightning.

SIPRI said war and tensions in the Middle East have fuelled the biggest spending increase of the past decade in the region.

Estimated military expenditure in the Middle East increased by 9.0 per cent to $200 billion in 2023. This was the highest annual growth rate in the region seen in the past decade.

Israel’s military spending—the second largest in the region after Saudi Arabia—grew by 24 per cent to reach $27.5 billion in 2023.

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 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,’ said Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.


Russia’s military spending increased by 24 per cent to an estimated $109 billion in 2023, marking a 57 per cent rise since 2014, the year that Russia annexed Crimea.

In 2023, Russia’s military spending made up 16 per cent of total government spending and its military burden (military spending as a share of gross domestic product, GDP) was 5.9 per cent.

Ukraine was the eighth largest spender in 2023, after a spending surge of 51 per cent to reach $64.8 billion. This gave Ukraine a military burden of 37 per cent and represented 58 per cent of total government spending.

In 2023, the 31 NATO members accounted for $1,341 billion, equal to 55 per cent of the world’s military expenditure.

Military spending by the US rose by 2.3 per cent to reach $916 billion in 2023, representing 68 per cent of total NATO military spending.

In 2023 most European NATO members increased their military expenditure. Their combined share of the NATO total was 28 per cent, the highest in a decade. The remaining 4 per cent came from Canada and Turkiye.

“For European NATO states, the past two years of war in Ukraine have fundamentally changed the security outlook,” said Lorenzo Scarazzato, Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

“This shift in threat perceptions is reflected in growing shares of GDP being directed towards military spending, with the NATO target of 2 per cent increasingly being seen as a baseline rather than a threshold to reach.”

A decade after NATO members formally committed to a target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on the military, 11 out of 31 NATO members met or surpassed this level in 2023—the highest number since the commitment was made.

Another target—of directing at least 20 per cent of military spending to ‘equipment spending’—was met by 28 NATO members in 2023, up from 7 in 2014.


Meanwhile, China, the world’s second-largest military spender, allocated an estimated $296 billion to the military in 2023, an increase of 6.0 per cent from 2022. This was the 29th consecutive year-on-year rise in China’s military expenditure.

China accounted for half of total military spending across the Asia and Oceania region. Several of China’s neighbours have linked their own spending increases to China’s rising military expenditure.

Japan allocated $50.2 billion to its military in 2023, which was 11 per cent more than in 2022. Taiwan’s military expenditure also grew by 11 per cent in 2023, reaching $16.6 billion.

“China is directing much of its growing military budget to boost the combat readiness of the People’s Liberation Army,” said Xiao Liang, Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.

“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. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo source: Pixabay

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate

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