Thursday, March 30, 2023

Watchdog: European arms imports rise despite global fall

STOCKHOLM ( Associated Press) — European countries bought 19% more major arms in the five years to 2021 than they did in the five years before that, even though the global figure was down 4.6%, reflecting the building tensions with Russia, a Swedish watchdog said in a report released Monday.

The largest European arms importers were Britain, Norway and the Netherlands, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, said. Other nations in Europe are also expected to increase their arms imports significantly over the coming decade, having recently placed large orders for major arms, in particular combat aircraft from the United States.

“The severe deterioration in relations between most European states and Russia was an important driver of growth in European arms imports, especially for states that cannot meet all their requirements through their national arms industries,” said Pieter D. Wezeman, a senior researcher with SIPRI’s arms transfer program.

Arms exports from the largest seller, the United States, grew by 14%, increasing its global share from 32% to 39%. That included a 106% rise in deliveries of major arms to Saudi Arabia.

Russian exports shrank by 26% to give it a 19% share of the global market. SIPRI said the fall was almost entirely due to a fall in arms deliveries to India and Vietnam, noting that several large arms deliveries from Russia to India are expected in the coming years.

France, the world’s third-largest arms exporter, increased sales by almost 60% in the five years to 2021, SIPRI said.

Fourth-placed China saw international sales decline by 31%, and fifth-placed Germany’s exports were down by 19%.

Globally, “whereas there were some positive developments, including South American arms imports reaching their lowest level in 50 years, increasing or continuing high rates of weapons imports to places like Europe, East Asia, Oceania and the Middle East contributed to worrying arms build- ups,” Wezeman said.


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