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(From The Economist 24/04/2023)
Has the Ukraine war started a new arms race? Yes, to judge by figures published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think-tank. Global defence spending rose by 3.7% in real terms in 2022 to a record $2.24trn. It shot up by 9.2% in Russia and septupled in Ukraine. Farther west in Europe, military spending grew by 3.6% to levels unseen since the end of the cold war.
Yet the picture is fuzzy. The economic burden of armed forces, at 2.2% of GDP, remains close to its post-cold-war low. In part, the world economy has grown. Of the biggest arms spenders, America was flat and China dipped as a share of GDP. But many of the promised spending increases are yet to come. Inflation may abate. And geopolitical tension—a long war in Ukraine, and talk of a future one between America and China—will push countries to buy ever more weapons.