Driven by Ukraine, arms imports doubled in Europe in 2022 | War in Ukraine

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Driven by Ukraine, arms imports doubled in Europe in 2022 | War in Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers take part in a military exercise on combat training at an undisclosed location near the border with Belarus, Ukraine.

Arms imports into Europe have almost doubled in 2022, driven by massive deliveries to Ukraine, which has become the world's third largest destination, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri ) published on Monday.

With a surge of 93% over one year, imports also increased due to the increase in military spending by several European states such as Poland and Norway, which should accelerate further, according to this reference study.

The invasion did cause a significant spike in demand for weapons in Europe, which has yet to show its full potential and will in all likelihood lead to further increases in imports, Pieter Wezeman, co-author of the annual report for more than three decades, told AFP.

Excluding Ukraine, the increase in European imports still reached 35% in 2022, according to Sipri data.

Ukraine, hitherto a negligible arms importer, suddenly became the third largest arms destination in the world last year, behind Qatar and India , a direct consequence of Western aid to repel the Russian invasion.

The country alone concentrated 31% of arms imports in Europe and 8% of world trade, according to data provided by Sipri to AFP as part of its annual report.

Kyiv's imports, including Western donations, have increased more than 60 times in 2022, according to the Stockholm-based institute.

Ukrainian soldiers train on Leopard 2 tanks, Poland. (File photo)

For most of the second-hand equipment, deliveries to Ukraine include around 230 American artillery pieces, 280 Polish armored vehicles and more than 7,000 British anti-tank missiles and new anti-aircraft systems. this time, list the Sipri.

To compile its rankings on the global arms trade, the institute favors units of value of its own, rather than dollars or euros.

If it is difficult to quantify because of the opacity of many contracts, the world arms trade exceeds 100 billion dollars annually, according to experts. For a total amount of military expenditure which for the first time exceeded 2000 billion dollars in 2021, according to Sipri.

The jump in European imports was expected due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. But it dramatically accelerates an upward trend on the Old Continent, a consequence of the rearmament that began several years ago after the annexation of Crimea by Moscow, and which is now accelerating at high speed.

European countries have either already ordered or plan to do so all types of armament. Submarines, fighter jets, drones, anti-tank missiles, guns and radars, Mr. Wezeman points out.

Everything is reviewed, because the idea is to build military capabilities across the spectrum, he adds.

Over the last five years (2018-2022), the period favored by Sipri to identify trends, European imports have increased by 47% compared to the previous five years, while world trade has declined by 5%.

Unlike Europe, all the other continents show a decline in imports over five years, with a marked drop in Africa (-40%), South America North and South (-20%) and even in Asia (-7%) and the Middle East (-9%), the world's leading markets.

Another major change: according to data from Sipri, the Middle East became in 2022 the first destination area for arms exports last year, with 32% of the total global.

It doubles Asia-Oceania (30%), which had held the top spot for years and Europe, at 27%, from less than 11% ten years ago.

A Chinese Army nuclear ballistic missile submarine during a military demonstration in the South China Sea . (File photo)

China is arming itself en masse but increasingly producing its weapons locally, which tends to reduce exports to Asia , according to Sipri.

In addition to Qatar (10% of the total), India (9%) and Ukraine (8%), Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (7% each) and Pakistan (5%) were the main importers.

On the export side, the world top 5 of the last five years is still provided by the United States (40%), then Russia (16%), France (11%) , China (5%) and Germany (4%), or between them three quarters of the total. But the American and French shares have increased markedly, while those of the other three have declined.

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