World defense spending reaches highest levels on record: Report

Military spending across the world last year reached the highest levels ever recorded by a major global think tank, soaring to $2.4 trillion in 2023, according to a new report.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said the $2.4 trillion in global defense spending last year marked a 6.8 percent increase from 2022 and is the ninth consecutive year of increased military spending.

World military spending per person reached $306, the highest number recorded by SIPRI since 1990.

“The rise in global military spending in 2023 can be attributed primarily to the ongoing war in Ukraine and escalating geopolitical tensions in Asia and Oceania and the Middle East,” researchers wrote in the report. “Military expenditure went up in all five geographical regions, with major spending increases recorded in Europe, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East.”

The Hill previously reported how global defense spending has surged with the return of great power competition and a more multipolar world. That has sparked countries to rethink critical national security priorities and policies, from Europe to the Indo-Pacific.

According to the SIPRI report, the U.S. and China account for about half of all global defense spending and the top 10 spenders account for 74 percent of all military spending.

The U.S. spent $916 billion on defense last year, far higher than any other country. China spent $296 billion on defense last year, becoming the second highest spender and increasing its military budget by 6 percent from 2022.

SIPRI noted that China has increased its military expenditures for the past 29 years, but that has slowed in the past 10 years, inline with a lagging economy.

The third highest spender was Russia at $109 billion, up 24 percent from 2022, while India was the fourth highest spender at $83.6 billion and Saudi Arabia was fifth at $75.8 billion, according to the report.

Russia is spending 5.9 percent of its total economic output on the war, according to the SIPRI report, which noted that Moscow’s numbers in the report may not be entirely accurate because of the opaqueness of the financial system since the war in Ukraine.

In East Asia, defense spending has soared as tensions rise in the Indo-Pacific between China and the U.S. and its allies, the report shows.

Japan, which has shifted away from a longstanding pacifist policy and is moving to increase military funds, spent around $50 billion last year, which is 11 percent more than in 2022 and 31 percent more than in 2014.

Taiwan, a self-governing island nation threatened by China, grew its military budget by 11 percent last year.

In Europe, defense spending increased to $588 billion, up 16 percent from 2022 and 62 percent from 2014, SIPRI found.

The increase in defense spending on the continent comes as NATO members are trying to reach a 2 percent of economic output target for defense spending, a goal driven more urgent by the war in Ukraine.

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