Arms imports to Europe have almost doubled in the past five years due to the war in Ukraine

Arms imports to Europe have almost doubled in the past five years due to the war in Ukraine

Arms imports to Europe have almost doubled in the past five years due to the war in UkraineEuropean Union

the Arms imports to Europe Between the periods 2014-2018 and 2019-2023, it almost doubled (+94%). This is indicated by data published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI, for its acronym in English), an increase that the entity largely justifies by sending weapons to Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion. More than half of European arms purchases (55%) came from the United States, which at the same time strengthened its position as the largest arms supplier on the global scene, with a share of 42%. Spain, for its part, ranked eighth in arms exports worldwide, with a weight of 2.7%.

Despite increased imports to the Old Continent, Europe was also responsible for 30% of global arms exports. Here the role of France emerges, which for the first time has become the second country that sells the largest number of military artefacts at the global level. Between 2019 and 2023, France accounted for 11% of the sector’s exports, a figure slightly higher than Russia, which ranks third.

Unlike France, which saw a 47% increase in exports compared to 2014-2018, Russia saw its arms sales halve.

Although France and Europe in general remain among the largest arms sellers, the continent maintains a large volume of purchases from the United States. According to the Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Dan Smith, “There are many factors that determine the decisions of European NATO countries to implement imports from the United States, including the goal of maintaining transatlantic relations, as well as technical, military, and cost issues.”

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Spain's role

During the period 2019-2023, Spain was the eighth largest arms exporter in the world, with an overall share of 2.7%. Apart from the three countries that appear at the top of the list – the US, France and Russia – China (5.8%), Germany (5.6%), Italy (4.3%) and the UK (3.7%).

According to SIPRI data, arms sales from Spain decreased by 3.3% compared to the period 2014-2018. The country's main clients are Saudi Arabia, Australia and Turkey.

Rest of the world

It was not only the war in Ukraine that boosted arms exports. Globally, India emerged as the largest arms importer, with a share of 9.8%. In fact, 37% of arms transfers between 2019 and 2023 were to countries in Asia and Oceania, a percentage that no region has been able to exceed.

India is followed by Saudi Arabia (8.4%), Qatar (7.6%), Ukraine (4.9%) and Pakistan (4.3%). Meanwhile, Australia stands out as the eighth-largest importer, while arms purchases by sub-Saharan African countries fell by 9%.

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