Global military spending soars | War in Ukraine
One year after the invasion of Ukraine, how the security environment has- has it changed?
German soldiers await the visit of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, passing through the training center Ostenholz military, October 17, 2022.
The Russian invasion did not reverse trends, but rather accelerated existing movements, says Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, director of the Military Expenditure and Arms Production research program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). ).
Arms expenditure by EU member countries and the United Kingdom, which had fallen after the economic crisis of 2008-2009 and the adoption of austerity policies, had started to increase in 2014, following the x27;Russia's invasion of Crimea, she observes.
“Europe was on a trajectory of increase before February 24, 2022 […] The Russian invasion accelerated this trend which was already there. »
— Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, SIPRI
American pressure, and in particular the very public remonstrances of former American President Donald Trump, had also contributed to NATO member countries increasing their military spending. After February 24, 2022, this reinvestment acquired new urgency.
At an extraordinary summit in March 2022, NATO members thus agreed to accelerate [their] efforts to devote 2% of GDP to their military spending, as agreed in 2014 in Glasgow.
In 2014, only three of NATO's 30 member states spent at least 2% of their GDP on defence. In the first half of 2022, there were nine of them.
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Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia are the countries that have increased their participation the most as a proportion of their GDP.
Germany is not there yet , but Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged on February 27, 2022 to reach the target, announcing in the same breath an exceptional envelope of 100 billion euros over five years to modernize his army.
“So we have to ask ourselves: what are the capabilities of Putin's Russia? And what capabilities do we need to deal with this threat, now and in the future? It is clear that we must invest much more in the security of our country in order to protect our freedom and our democracy. »
— Excerpt from the speech of Olaf Scholz, February 27, 2022, before the Bundestag
With this announcement, Germany will become the country that spends the most on its army ahead of France, and potentially also ahead of the United Kingdom, notes Lucie Béraud-Sudreau. This may change political dynamics in Europe.
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Japan is another country that has undergone a major shift this year, doubling its military budget in five years to 2% of its GDP. He also participated for the first time in a NATO summit this summer, as an observer, with South Korea.
There is a general increase in conflict in international relations, observes Lucie Béraud-Sudreau.
Western countries will however have a lot to do to catch up.
The 1990s and early 2000s were years of massive disinvestment in the armed forces, notes Justin Massie, professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Quebec in Montreal and co-director of the Strategic Analysis Network.
Between 1992 and 2022, the number of European tanks fell by 77%, that of fighter planes by 57%, that of combat ships by 39%, according to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, taken from by McKinsey.
“Decades of shrinking defense budgets have led to a dramatic reduction in Europe's armed forces and generated #x27;significant capacity gaps.
—Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Report
Demonstration of military equipment at the Rheinmetall stand, at the international exhibition dedicated to land and air-land defense and security Eurosatory , in Paris, June 14, 2022.
Over the past 20 years, European armies have lost more than a third of their capacity.
This is the so-called peace dividend, notes Sean Monaghan, visiting scholar at CSIS. This was not seen as a problem until 2014 and the invasion of Crimea.
Recent reinvestment announcements, however, will take a long time to translate by concrete changes, underline the analysts. Manufacturers of war materials are simply not ready.
The industry is struggling to keep up, notes Justin Massie. It cannot go overnight from small-scale production, as had become the norm, to that required to sustain the war effort in Ukraine.
Staff at the Roshel plant in Mississauga are working at full speed to supply 200 armored vehicles to the Canadian government.
In addition to resupplying, NATO partners are supplying military equipment to Ukraine.
Canada recently announced the acquisition of an advanced surface-to-air missile system (NASAMS) from the United States to offer to Ukraine. It's equipment that the Canadian military has been asking for for more than a decade, Massie said. We've underinvested so much that we can't even give [this equipment], because we don't have it; one is forced to buy it from abroad.
Tons of rockets, missiles, shells, artillery and other ammunition supplied to Ukraine have emptied western reservations. An analysis of US stockpiles shows it could take five to eight years for the US to replenish its ammunition chests as they were before Feb. 24, Massie notes.
“We're running out of ammunition, because we didn't think wars would last that long. Short wars were expected with little ammunition and the possibility, eventually, of developing more. »
— Justin Massie, professor at UQAM and co-director of the Strategic Analysis Network
The United States has provided 5,500 Javelin anti-tank missiles to the #x27;Ukraine, which would represent a third of their reserves. Lockheed Martin produces 2100 annually.
And that's not counting everything that Ukraine will still need.
There is the question of replacing what has been given to ensure that ;we have what it takes for our territorial security, but also international pressure to continue to support the defense efforts of Ukraine, explains Annessa Kimball, professor of political science at Laval University and director of the Center on international security.
Especially since before starting production, manufacturers want to be sure of having long-term commitments.
We are not going to start building a new factory if we are not sure we will have 10-year contracts, illustrates Lucie Béraud-Sudreau.
“That's the crux of the debate today, is the industry going to be able to keep up with the increase in demand? It's a bit of a race against time. »
— Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, of SIPRI
Governments, on the other hand, face pressure from public opinion.
US President Joe Biden visited arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin's plant in Troy, Alabama on May 3, 2022, to thank employees for their contribution to arming Ukraine.
The costs of the types of equipment we invest in today are staggering, explains Justin Massie. Additionally, issues of staff shortages and limited supply chains are pushing prices higher, the expert says. In the middle of defense, they explode even more than normal inflation.
This will be the case for the two major modernization programs for Canadian equipment, namely the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets and the renewal of the combat ship fleet.
“When you look at how much it's going to cost, it's the biggest expense in Canadian military history, it's so expensive to produce state-of-the-art equipment. »
— Justin Massie, professor at UQAM and co-director of the Strategic Analysis Network
This effort will have to be sustained over time, he underlines. Post-war scenarios demand a lot of weaponry. No matter how the war in Ukraine ends […] there will be deep hostility between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples. It's like the Israelis with their neighbors. When you are in a country that feels threatened, you arm yourself for the next conflict.
Ukrainian soldiers fire an American-made Javelin during an exercise.
In addition, the Europeans will have to take on more of their defense in the years to come than they used to. The United States, which it has always relied on, is pivoting to another region of the world: the Indo-Pacific. The American national security strategy expresses it very clearly: China is the main threat, notes Sean Monaghan.
It is for this reason that Europeans must prepare to assume them their defence, he stresses.
In addition to substantially increasing their military budget, they must overcome the problem of the fragmentation of their defensive capabilities. Each European country has its own military-industrial base, deplores Sean Monaghan. This means their defense spending is fragmented and not being used in the best possible way.
“C' is the balancing act that European nations will have to overcome: to arm themselves as quickly as possible, but in a way that gives them the longer-term ability to defend themselves.
— Sean Monaghan, Visiting Scholar at CSIS