Pandemics in spite of: why countries of the world have increased the military burden
SIPRI: Russia entered the top 5 countries in terms of military spending in the world
The top five states - leaders on the list in 2020 accounted for 62% of all global military spending. The top 5 includes the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom, according to a SIPRI report released on April 26. China's military spending has risen for the 26th straight year.
Overall, global military spending increased by 2.6% over the year, while global gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 4.4% ( International Monetary Fund forecast for October 2020). Experts cite the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the reduction in the second indicator.
As a result, military spending as a share of GDP - the military burden - reached the global average of 2.4% in 2020, up from 2.2% in 2019. This was the largest increase in military load on an annualized basis since the 2009 global financial and economic crisis.
While military spending has risen globally, some countries have clearly reallocated some of their planned military spending towards the pandemic response, such as Chile and South Korea. Several other states, including Brazil and Russia, spent significantly less than their original military budgets for 2020, the SIPRI document emphasizes.
“We can say with some certainty that the pandemic did not have a significant impact on global military spending in 2020,” said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Research Fellow at the SIPRI Arms and Defense Expenditure Program. "It remains to be seen whether the countries will maintain this level of military spending during the second year of the pandemic."
The skyrocketing US military spending continued into 2020. In 2020, U.S. spending on defense reached approximately $ 778 billion, up 4.4% from 2019.
The United States, as the country with the largest military budget in the world, accounted for 39% of total military spending in 2020. This was the third consecutive year of growth in US military spending after seven years of continuous cuts.
“The recent increase in US military spending can be primarily attributed to significant investment in research and development, as well as several long-term projects such as modernizing the US nuclear arsenal and large-scale arms purchases,” said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher at the SIPRI Arms and Defense Expenditure Program.
"This reflects the growing concern of the United States about perceived threats from strategic rivals such as China and Russia, as well as the desire of [former US President] Donald Trump 's administration to support what it saw as a depleted US military," Marksteiner added.
China's military spending, the second-largest in the world, is estimated at $ 252 billion - an increase of 1.9% over 2019 and 76% over the 2011-2020 decade.
China's spending has grown for 26 consecutive years, the longest period of any country in the SIPRI database.
"China stands out as the only country in the world with a large military budget to increase its military burden relatively modestly in 2020, despite rising military spending due to positive GDP growth last year," said Dr. Nan Tian, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Institute. ... "China's continued growth in spending is partly due to the country's long-term plans to modernize and increase the state's military power in line with its stated desire to catch up with other major military powers."
Despite the economic downturn, more and more NATO member states are overfulfilling their military spending targets.
Almost all NATO members are faced with an increased military burden in 2020. As a result, the 12 members of the alliance spent 2% or more of their GDP on national military forces, which is the Alliance's primary spending target. In 2019, there were only nine such states. France, for example, the eighth largest military budget in the world, crossed the 2% threshold for the first time since 2009.
“While more NATO members spent more than 2% of GDP on their armed forces in 2020, in some cases this was likely due to the economic fallout of the pandemic rather than a deliberate decision to meet the Alliance's spending target,” said SIPRI Research Fellow on armaments and military expenditures Lopes da Silva.
Russia's military spending increased by 2.5% in 2020 to $ 61.7 billion, an increase for the second consecutive year.
Despite this, Russia's military spending in 2020 turned out to be 6.6% lower than originally envisaged: the authors of the report explain this by the influence of COVID-19.
With $ 59.2 billion, the UK has the fifth largest military budget in 2020. UK military spending is 2.9% higher than in 2019, but 4.2% lower than in 2011.
Germany increased its spending by 5.2% to $ 52.8 billion, making it the seventh largest military budget in 2020. Germany's military spending is 28% higher than in 2011.
Overall, military spending in Europe in 2020 increased by 4%.
Besides China, India ($ 72.9 billion), Japan ($ 49.1 billion), South Korea ($ 45.7 billion) and Australia ($ 27.5 billion) are the states with the largest military spending in the Asia and Oceania region. All four countries increased their military spending between 2019 and 2020 and over the decade 2011-2020.
Military spending in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 3.4% in 2020 to $ 18.5 billion.The largest growth was seen in Chad (+ 31%), Mali (+ 22%), Mauritania (+ 23%) and Nigeria (+ 29%), all listed countries belong to the Sahel region, as well as Uganda (+ 46%).
South America's military spending in 2020 fell 2.1% to $ 43.5 billion, largely due to a 3.1% sequestration in defense spending in Brazil, the region's largest military budget.
The aggregate military spending of 11 countries in the Middle East, for which SIPRI has data, decreased by 6.5% to $ 143 billion.
Eight of the nine OPEC members cut their military spending in 2020. Angola's spending fell 12%, Saudi Arabia's 10%, Kuwait's 5.9%. Bahrain, which is not an OPEC member, also cut its spending by 9.8%.
“I would not directly link the military spending of the militarily leading states of the world in 2020 and 2021 with the spread of coronavirus infection. A lot of things are being blamed on this pandemic, " Alexander Burutin, former First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces , Chairman of the Expert Council of the Defense Committee of the State Duma , comments to Gazeta.Ru on the SIPRI report .
According to the lieutenant general,
the increase in expenditures on various military programs is primarily associated with an increase in political instability in the world and a decrease in the level of political interethnic interaction.
In the lexicon of certain politicians, such unfriendly expressions as “aggressor country”, “enemy”, “murderer”, etc., which two years ago could not have been imagined, have started to appear again. The increase in military spending is a reaction to the growth of military confrontation, some harsh, if not aggressive statements by some political leaders, Burutin said.
“As far as the United States is concerned, the growth of the military budget is largely associated with the past presidential elections in the United States. In the course of the pre-election race, each of the candidates tried to enlist the support of the national military lobby, thereby pushing the implementation of various kinds of military programs, ”the expert concluded.