World military expenditure reached an all-time high of USD 2.1 trillion in 2021, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday, adding that the top three largest spenders were the United States, China and India.
“Total global military expenditure increased by 0.7% in real terms in 2021, to reach USD 2113 billion. The five largest spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia, together accounting for 62% of expenditure,” SIPRI said in a statement.
“Even amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels. There was a slowdown in the rate of real-terms growth due to inflation. In nominal terms, however, military spending grew by 6.1%.,” said Dr. Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
As a result of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, defence spending amounted to 2.2% of global GDP, while in 2020 this figure reached 2.3%.
US military spending reached USD 801 billion in 2021, a drop of 1.4% from 2020, the statement said. In the period from 2012 to 2021, the US increased funding for military research and development by 24% and reduced spending on arms purchases by 6.4%, according to the statement.
Second place went to China, which spent USD 293 billion on defence, an increase of 4.7% compared with 2020. India’s military spending ranked third with USD 76.6 billion last year, an increase of 0.9% in comparison with 2020 and 33% from 2012. In a push to strengthen the Indian arms industry, 64% of capital outlays in the military budget of 2021 were earmarked for acquisitions of domestically produced arms.
The UK spent $ 68.4 billion on defence last year, up by 3% from 2020, the report added.
Meanwhile, Russia took the fifth highest position in defence spending.
“Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9% in 2021, to USD 65.9 billion, at a time when it was building up its forces along the Ukrainian border. This was the third consecutive year of growth and Russia’s military spending reached 4.1% of GDP in 2021,” the statement said.
In 2021, high energy prices helped Russia to increase its military spending, Lucie Beraud-Sudreau, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme, said, adding that between 2016-2019 Russia experienced a decrease in the military spending due to low prices of oil and gas as well as sanctions imposed on Russia.
SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.
Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.