World military spending continued to grow in 2021, reaching an all-time high of $2.1 trillion despite the economic fallout of the pandemic, according to new data on global military spending published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The five largest spenders in 2021 were the U.S, China, India, the U.K. and Russia, together accounting for 62% of expenditure. The U.S. and China alone accounted for 52%.
“India’s military spending of $76.6 billion ranked third highest in the world. This was up by 0.9% from 2020 and by 33% from 2012. Amid ongoing tensions and border disputes with China and Pakistan that occasionally spill over into armed clashes, India has prioritized the modernization of its armed forces and self-reliance in arms production,” the report said. In a drive to strengthen the indigenous arms industry, 64% of capital outlays in the 2021 Indian military budget were earmarked for acquisitions of domestically produced arms.
Stating that military spending in Asia and Oceania totalled $586 billion in 2021, the report noted that spending in the region was 3.5% higher than in 2020, continuing an uninterrupted upward trend dating back to at least 1989. “The increase in 2021 was due primarily to growth in Chinese and Indian military spending. Together, the two countries accounted for 63% of total military expenditure in the region in 2021,” it observed.
‘Even amid the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels,’ the report said quoting Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production (MEAP) programme. There was a slowdown in the rate of real-terms growth due to inflation. In nominal terms, however, military spending grew by 6.1%.’
As a result of a sharp economic recovery in 2021, the global world military expenditure as a share of the world gross domestic product (GDP), fell by 0.1 percentage points, from 2.3% in 2020 to 2.2% in 2021.
Russia increases military budget
Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9% in 2021, to $65.9 billion, at a time when “it was building up its forces along the Ukrainian border,” the report pointed out. This was the third consecutive year of growth and Russia’s military spending reached 4.1% of GDP in 2021.
‘High oil and gas revenues helped Russia to boost its military spending in 2021. Russian military expenditure had been in decline between 2016 and 2019 as a result of low energy prices combined with sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014,’ Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, Director of SIPRI’s MEAP programme, said.
On Ukraine, the report remarked that as it had strengthened its defences against Russia, its military spending “has risen by 72% since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.” Spending fell in 2021, to $5.9 billion, but still accounted for 3.2% of the country’s GDP, it added.