Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

Russia's EU neighbours boost arms spending

  • The US and Nato are storing tanks and armoured vehicles in easterly EU states in order to deter Russian aggression (Photo: 1st BCT, 1st CD)

Eastern EU states posted some of the sharpest increases in arms spending in the world last year, driven by a fear of Russia, according to Swedish think tank Sipri.

Polish spending rose by 33 percent to $10.5 billion (€9.2 billion). Romanian spending climbed by 22 percent and is budgeted to climb by 53 percent this year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Russia's 9 May military parade last year witnessed its biggest display of strength since the fall of the Soviet Union (Photo: Dmitriy Fomin)

Slovak spending grew by 17 percent. Baltic states Lithuania (33 percent) and Latvia (14 percent) also registered significant increases in 2015.

Put into context, the increases are much steeper than, for instance, Saudi Arabia’s (5.7 percent). Saudi spending is vastly higher overall ($87.2bn), but its relatively modest increase comes despite the fact it is locked in an arms race with Iran, fighting a proxy war in Syria and an open conflict in Yemen.

The Sipri report attributed the trend in central Europe to “escalating fear of a threat from Russia" following its invasion of Ukraine and its show of strength in Syria.

It noted that overall spending by Nato’s European members, including Turkey, went down by 0.3 percent to $250 billion.

But the Russian threat, coupled with the war on Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, prompted Nato’s main European powers - the UK, France, and Germany - to raise spending.

Russian expenditure also continued to climb in 2015, rising by 7.5 percent to $66.4 billion.

The figure was 3 percent lower than Russia had planned to spend as a result of “falling oil and gas prices, coupled with [EU and US] economic sanctions”, Sipri said. The same factors would contribute to a real-terms cut of 9 percent in its 2016 military budget.

But Russia’s 2015 budget was a whopping 91 percent higher than the figure for 2006, highlighting the scale of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decade-long rearmament programme.

Looking further afield, Sipri noted that US spending continues to dwarf that of any other country on the planet.

The main Nato power, which recently announced new deployments in Nato states that border Russia, spent $596 billion last year - more than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UK, India, France and Japan added together.

Global spending itself also climbed by 1 percent to $1.7 trillion.

Commenting on the big picture, Sam Perlo-Freedom, a Sipri analyst, said: “On the one hand, spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world; on the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fuelled surge in military spending of the past decade.

“This volatile economic and political situation creates an uncertain picture for the years to come.”

US military plans for Europe prompt Russian warning

The US has unveiled fresh details of its plan to create a Russia-deterrent force in eastern Europe, prompting Russia to warn of an “asymmetric response” and of a potential "crisis".

Russia threat triggers European military spending hike

Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has intensified military and defence spending throughout much of Central Europe, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Nato and Russia trade accusations

Renewed Nato-Russia talks ended in “profound disagreement” on Wednesday (20 April) over Ukraine and over Russia’s harassment of Nato assets.

News in Brief

  1. EU states make progress on Covid-19 'travel certificates'
  2. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  3. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  4. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  5. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  6. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  7. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  8. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us