Europe Doubled Arms Imports Over 5 Years

by | Mar 11, 2024

Europe Doubled Arms Imports Over 5 Years

by | Mar 11, 2024

FILE PHOTO: A US airman prepares a weapons shipment bound for Ukraine at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, March 20, 2022. (Credit: US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marco A. Gomez)

Europe nearly doubled its purchases of weapons in recent years, with Ukraine helping to drive the trend as it boosted imports by more than 6,000%, according to data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Russian arms exports, meanwhile, dropped by more than half during the same period.

SIPRI research published on Monday shows a 94% spike in European arms imports in 2019-2023, compared to the preceding five years. US contractors account for a growing number of those sales, with around 55% of Europe’s imports supplied by American firms between 2019 and 2023 – up from just 35% for 2014-2018.

“More than half of arms imports by European states come from the USA,” said SIPRI director Dan Smith. “At the same time, Europe is responsible for about a third of global arms exports, including large volumes going outside the region.”

France accounts for much of the latter figure, boosting its weapons exports by 47% in the 2019-2023 period. The increase has made Paris the world’s number-two arms dealer, with Moscow taking third place and Washington securely holding the top spot. 

Russian arms sales have seen a significant fall over the same timeframe, dropping by 53%, what SIPRI described as a “rapid decline.” Though Russia sold “major arms” to 31 nations in 2019, that number had dropped to just 12 in 2023. India and China make up a large proportion of the sales, accounting for 34% and 21% respectively. 

Facing full-scale war with Russia since Moscow’s 2022 invasion, Ukraine has quickly become one of the world’s top arms buyers, rising to fourth place in the global ranking and to first in Europe. According to an interactive map published by SIPRI, Kiev’s weapons imports ballooned by a staggering 6,633% in 2019-2023, with at least 30 states supplying military hardware in that time. Though American aid has largely dried up in recent months, the United States has been Ukraine’s largest backer by far, authorizing the better part of $100 billion in military, financial and humanitarian assistance to date.

In addition to growing its European market share, the US has also staked a bigger claim in Asia and Oceania, becoming the largest arms supplier in both regions for the first time in 25 years. While Russia now makes up 19% of exports to the same countries, US firms are now responsible for 34% of those sales. Washington also remains Israel’s top weapons provider, the SIPRI data shows, accounting for 69% of the country’s imports. 

Will Porter

Will Porter

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. Find more of his work at Consortium News, ZeroHedge and RT.

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