Global military spending has increased in real terms to total almost US$1.7 trillion in 2015. Data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent resource on global security, shows a 1 percent real increase in global spending last year — the first increase in spending since 2011.
The annual global military expenditure picture is mixed, with continuing growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states, while Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean cut defense expenditure.
While Africa displayed the biggest drop at more than 5 percent, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean also reduced spending by around 2 percent.
Spending in Western and Central Europe was down 0.2 percent and has now fallen 8.5 percent since 2006. But expenditure in the Eastern European region (which includes Russia) went up 7.5 percent – the biggest increase of any region.
Growth in military spending was most apparent in the countries bordering Russia and Ukraine, which the report says reflects “the escalating fear of a threat from Russia”.
Asia and Oceania also boosted spending by just over 5 percent.
Defense budgets have seen big cuts since the financial crash, with some of the world’s biggest spenders scaling back their military expenditure, including the UK, France and Germany.
Military spending in North America and Western and Central Europe, which has been decreasing since 2009, largely as a result of the global economic crisis, as well as the withdrawal of most US and allied troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, appeared to be coming to an end in 2015, with slower declines in military spending in these regions.
The United States, despite a drop in 2015, is still the biggest global spender on its military, with a 2015 expenditure of almost $600 billion, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all global defense spending.
This is considerably higher than the next biggest spender, China, which spent an estimated $215 billion on military, or roughly 10 percent of global spending. Earlier this year China announced a 7.6 percent increase in its National Defense budget for 2016 — or a total $146 billion.
When measuring military expenditure as a share of GDP, Saudi Arabia tops the list with 13.7 percent of its GDP. By comparison, the US spends only 3.3 percent of its GDP on the military, and China an estimated 1.9 percent.
Saudi Arabia’s defense expenditure grew by 5.7 per cent to $87.2 billion — making it the world’s third-largest spender — while Russia, the world’s fourth largest spender increased its spending by 7.5 per cent to $66.4 billion.