Imports of major arms by European states increased by 47 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22, while the global level of international arms transfers decreased by 5.1 per cent. Arms imports fell overall in Africa (–40 per cent), the Americas (–21 per cent), Asia and Oceania (–7.5 per cent) and the Middle East (–8.8 per cent)—but imports to East Asia and certain states in other areas of high geopolitical tension rose sharply.
The United States’ share of global arms exports increased from 33 to 40 per cent while Russia’s fell from 22 to 16 per cent, according to new data on global arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
‘Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states,’ said Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European states want to import more arms, faster. Strategic competition also continues elsewhere: arms imports to East Asia have increased and those to the Middle East remain at a high level.’
US and French arms exports increase as Russian exports decline
Global arms exports have long been dominated by the USA and Russia (consistently the largest and second largest arms exporters for the past three decades). However, the gap between the two has been widening significantly, while that between Russia and the third largest supplier, France, has narrowed. US arms exports increased by 14 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22, and the USA accounted for 40 per cent of global arms exports in 2018–22. Russia’s arms exports fell by 31 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22, and its share of global arms exports decreased from 22 per cent to 16 per cent, while France’s share increased from 7.1 per cent to 11 per cent.
Russian arms exports decreased to 8 of its 10 biggest recipients between 2013–17 and 2018–22. Exports to India, the largest recipient of Russian arms, fell by 37 per cent, while exports to the other 7 decreased by an average of 59 per cent. However, Russian arms exports increased to China (+39 per cent) and Egypt (+44 per cent), and they became Russia’s second and third largest recipients.
‘It is likely that the invasion of Ukraine will further limit Russia’s arms exports. This is because Russia will prioritize supplying its armed forces and demand from other states will remain low due to trade sanctions on Russia and increasing pressure from the USA and its allies not to buy Russian arms,’ said Siemon T. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
France’s arms exports increased by 44 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22. Most of these exports were to states in Asia and Oceania and the Middle East. India received 30 per cent of France’s arms exports in 2018–22, and France displaced the USA as the second largest supplier of arms to India after Russia.
‘France is gaining a bigger share of the global arms market as Russian arms exports decline, as seen in India, for example,’ said Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘This seems likely to continue, as by the end of 2022, France had far more outstanding orders for arms exports than Russia.’
Ukraine becomes world’s third largest arms importer in 2022
From 1991 until the end of 2021, Ukraine imported few major arms. As a result of military aid from the USA and many European states following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine became the 3rd biggest importer of major arms during 2022 (after Qatar and India) and the 14th biggest for 2018–22. Ukraine accounted for 2.0 per cent of global arms imports in the five-year period.
‘Due to concerns about how the supply of combat aircraft and long-range missiles could further escalate the war in Ukraine, NATO states declined Ukraine’s requests for them in 2022. At the same time, they supplied such arms to other states involved in conflict, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia,’ said Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
Read more on the official SIPRI website