Europe’s military spending skyrockets in wake of Ukraine crisis

Image Credit (SIPRI) Bangkok Post

In a jaw-dropping revelation, Europe‘s military spending has leapt to unbelievable heights this year, and the situation in Ukraine is the primary reason for this trend. Global security researchers unveiled that the ongoing strife has catapulted European military expenditure to dizzying levels, something not witnessed since the end of the Cold War!

With challenges brewing in East Asia between the US and China, Europe’s increased military investments have significantly contributed to global military expenditure hitting a staggering eighth consecutive record of US$2.24 trillion. That’s a whopping 2.2% of the world’s GDP.

Europe’s defence spending increased by a cracking 13% in 2022 compared to the previous year. This remarkable figure doesn’t even take into account the rampant inflation rates, which means the actual spending is even higher. It’s been the most dramatic increase in over three decades and brings Europe’s total military spending back to the same level in constant dollars as in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came crashing down.

The trouble in Ukraine has seen the beleaguered nation up its military spending seven-fold to an eye-watering US$44 billion, or a staggering one-third of its gross domestic product. On top of this, they’ve also received billions in weapon donations from all over the world, pointed out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

At the same time, Russia hasn’t been sitting idly by. Their military spending is estimated to have risen by 9.2% just last year. And even if you were to remove the spending of these two adversaries from the equation, European spending would still have bloomin’ well increased by a fair bit.

SIPRI noted that Europe’s military spending, which amounted to a massive US$480 billion in 2022, has already surged by a third in the last decade. This upward trend shows no sign of stopping, and we can expect it to pick up even more speed over the next decade. Europe may potentially see growth levels similar to those in 2022 for the next few years, possibly turning it into a region with a wildly booming military sector.

While China’s colossal military investments were originally fuelling the turnaround of military expenditure in the early 21st century, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 also significantly contributed to this surge.

The US continues to rule the roost, accounting for an impressive 39% of global military spending. China is nipping at its heels with 13% of the total, and together these two behemoths make up more than half of military expenditure globally. Trailing behind them are countries like Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia, all with percentages between 3.3 and 3.9%.

China’s been enthusiastically investing in its naval forces, hoping to expand its reach not only in Taiwan but also into the South China Sea. As a result, countries like Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Australia are all hopping on the military spending bandwagon.

Britain tops the European spending charts, holding sixth place globally and accounting for 3.1% of military expenditures worldwide. Germany and France follow in their footsteps, with 2.5% and 2.4%, respectively. Honourable mentions also include significant military investment increases during the past decade by countries such as Poland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Finland has been splashing the cash too, snapping up 64 American F-35 fighter jets in a jaw-droppingly colossal purchase. With military expenditure all across Europe reaching such unprecedented heights, one can only hope the old adage “mighty defence makes a strong offence” holds firm.

World News

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!