Global military spending will have peaked again in 2023. For the ninth time in a row, the figures exceeded last year’s spending, according to a new report from the Stockholm peace research institute Sipri.

According to this, spending in 2023 rose by 6.8 percent, adjusted for inflation, to 2.44 trillion US dollars (around 2.28 trillion euros) – the largest year-on-year increase since 2009. In 2022 it was 2, 24 trillion dollars (around 2.04 trillion euros). The ten largest donors have all significantly increased their spending.

The war between Russia and Ukraine is also responsible for this unprecedented increase. “All the regions we map have increased. This gives us a perspective for a world that feels less safe and perhaps resorts to tough security measures rather than diplomatic means,” Sipri researcher Lorenzo Scarazzato told the German Press Agency. “One of the main reasons is, of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We have seen how that has led to an increase in military spending in Europe,” Scarazzato explained.

Big players stay on top

The USA remains undefeated at the top of the list of countries that spend the most on the military. At 916 billion US dollars (almost 859 billion euros), they alone accounted for more than a third (37 percent) of global military spending – around three times as much as second-placed China. With 12 percent of global spending, China spent an estimated $296 billion on the military – six percent more than last year. Together, these two countries alone accounted for around half of global spending in 2023.

Overall, the top seven places remained constant, according to the report. Russia was in third place, followed by India and Saudi Arabia, as in 2022. Germany was once again in seventh place among the countries with the largest expenditure – just behind Great Britain.

German development

“When it comes to Germany, it is often criticized because it has not yet achieved NATO’s two percent target,” said the Sipri researcher in reference to the evaluations. “What we perhaps shouldn’t forget is that Germany is one of the most important economic powers in Europe and is the second largest military spender in Europe after the United Kingdom.”

Germany therefore has an effective share of the expenditure. The federal government promised to achieve the two percent target by 2024. “So I think we’re seeing the narrative change in Germany,” Scarazzato said.

“Germany is now making a significant contribution to the global arms race,” says Alexander Lurz, disarmament expert at Greenpeace. “The inglorious 7th place in the list of states with the largest military budget should give pause to everyone who is now calling for a second special fund or reform of the debt brake to upgrade the Bundeswehr.”

In general, in his opinion, there is a narrow understanding of security. This cannot be achieved with armor alone. “We see that massive armament does not make the world a safer place, but rather promotes violence everywhere,” he said. Global military spending was equivalent to 2.3 percent of global gross domestic product.

Influence of the Ukraine War

The largest percentage increase in the top 10 group was in Ukraine. Their military spending rose by 51 percent to 64.8 billion dollars (about 60.7 billion euros). They moved from 11th place in 2022 to 8th place in 2023. Military spending accounted for more than half (58 percent) of total government spending.

This share was significantly higher than in Russia, where military spending accounted for 16 percent of total government spending last year. In addition, there was military aid from other countries for Ukraine amounting to at least 35 billion euros. This aid and Ukraine’s own military spending accounted for about 91 percent of Russia’s military spending.

In Russia, military spending rose by 24 percent to an estimated $109 billion (around 102 billion euros) in 2023. The annual Sipri report on military spending around the world is considered the most comprehensive data collection of its kind in the world. The peace researchers also count expenses for personnel , military aid and military research and development among the expenditures.