Amid raging wars, the world spent $2,443 bn in 2023 on military expenses

Global military spend marks steepest rise in 15 years, India fourth biggest spender


Amid political and military turmoil on the Russia-Ukraine front and in West Asia, and with weapons production spiking worldwide in tandem with the increasing demand, in 2023, global military expenditure registered an increase of 6.8 per cent in real terms from 2022.

In total, the world spent $2,443 billion in 2023 on military expenses—registering the steepest year-on-year increase in the last 15 years, according to figures released by the weapons trade watchdog Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.

In 2023, Russia’s military spending surged 24 per cent to touch $109 billion, making up for 16 per cent of total government spending.

Ukraine spent $64.8 billion in 2023, marking a year-on-year rise of 51 per cent, while Israel’s military spending grew by 24 per cent to reach $27.5 billion.

Led by the United States, China and Russia, the world’s top 10 biggest spenders all spent more on military items in 2023.

A SIPRI release said: “For the first time since 2009, military expenditure went up in all five of the geographical regions defined by SIPRI, with particularly large increases recorded in Europe, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East.”

At $83.6 billion, India was the fourth largest military spender in 2023 while marking a year-on-year rise of 4.2 per cent.

The idea that the rising expenditures are fuelled by the raging wars and that the trend may continue to further gain traction is indicated by the fact that the US recently cleared a bill with $60.84 billion in aid to war-afflicted Ukraine. This go-ahead came even as the Joe Biden government issued warnings that Ukraine could face battlefield reverses if not given assistance.

The bill is called the Ukraine Security Supplemental Appropriations Act and provides for $23.3 billion to replenish defence “articles and services” provided to Ukraine, $13.8 billion for the procurement of advanced weapons systems and $11.3 billion for US military operations in the region. The provisions also include coming to Ukraine’s military aid by providing long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).

The US defence industry has also benefited hugely from the Ukraine war with the military sale business touching $80.9 billion in 2023 through its foreign military sales programme.

James Hursch, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had said recently: “We’ve had a huge increase in demand from our European allies and partners over the last few years since the … invasion by the Russians in Ukraine.”

Under the US Department of Defense, the DSCA oversees global military sales. The US sells its weapons to 107 countries.

While the Russia-Ukraine conflict had been simmering since 2014, the latest round began on February 24, 2022, when Russian soldiers moved into Ukraine in what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a ‘special forces operation’. 

On the other hand, the Israel-Hamas conflict blew into a full frontal offensive by Israel after Hamas militants attacked Israeli settlements in a sudden assault on October 7, 2023, which killed 1,139 people while 250 were abducted. The dead included 695 Israeli civilians including 36 children, 373 security forces and 71 foreigners. 

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp