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European countries double arms imports since 2019, according to SIPRI

France overtakes Russia and becomes the second largest arms exporter in the world, only behind the US.

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European countries double arms imports since 2019, according to SIPRI

France overtakes Russia and becomes the second largest arms exporter in the world, only behind the US

Global volume of international transfers decreases by three percent

European countries have practically doubled the amount of imports (94 percent) of large weapons since 2019, according to data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which also highlights France's overtaking Russia as second largest arms exporter in the world, surpassed only by the United States, whose exports have grown to 42 percent of the world volume.

Among the top ten exporters are Italy and South Korea, which have increased their sales volume by 86 and 12 percent, respectively, and China (5.3 percent decrease), Germany (14 percent decrease) , the United Kingdom (14 percent decrease), Spain (3.3 percent decrease) and Israel (25 percent decrease).

Although fighter aircraft are the main long-range attack weapon, interest in long-range missiles is increasing, and up to six countries have ordered projectiles from the United States with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers.

In the last four years, Washington has been the supplier of more than half of the weapons imported by European states, which represents an increase of 20 percentage points compared to the previous period (2014-2018).

"More than half of European states' arms imports came from the United States. At the same time, Europe is responsible for about a third of global arms exports, including large volumes leaving the region, reflecting the strong military-industrial capacity in Europe," said SIPRI director Dan Smith.

In that sense, he explained that these figures are conditioned by the European member countries of NATO, which intend to maintain transatlantic relations with Washington, which has delivered weapons to 107 countries. Between the United States and Western Europe they represent 72 percent of global arms exports.

However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has now entered its third year, also has to do with this phenomenon, and Kiev has become the largest European importer and the fourth largest in the world in the period from 2019 to 2023, having received weapons from thirty countries since the start of the war.

After Ukraine, the largest importers in the region are Germany, with 6.4 percent of the volume, and France, with 4.6 percent. Paris has destined 42 percent of its exports to countries in Asia and Oceania, with India standing out as its main buyer with almost 30 percent, while it has destined 34 percent to countries in the Middle East.

"The United States has increased its global role as an arms supplier, an important aspect of its foreign policy, exporting more weapons, to more countries, than ever in the past. This comes at a time when the economic and geopolitical dominance of The United States is being challenged by emerging powers," explained the director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, Mathew George.

Notably, it is the first time that Moscow has fallen to third place on this list after reducing its exports by 50 percent as part of its invasion of Ukraine, which has entered its third year. Its main buyers are India and China, with 34 and 21 percent of the volume, respectively.

SAUDI ARABIA, LARGEST IMPORTER IN THE MIDDLE EAST

The great and growing tensions in the Middle East have not prevented a 28 percent reduction in imports in the last four years, although after a previous period of record.

The largest regional importer is Saudi Arabia, with 8.4 percent of the 30 percent it represents globally. However, Qatar has multiplied by four (396 percent) its arms purchases, and Egypt has already managed to become the seventh importing country in the world.

Regarding Israel, the United States has provided 69 percent of its weapons, while Germany has provided the other 30 percent.

INDIA AS THE MAIN IMPORTER OF ARMAMENT WORLDWIDE

Although the volume of international arms transfers has decreased by 3.3 percent in the last five years, India has established itself as the world's largest importer after increasing by 4.7 percent, with Russia being its main supplier, which for the first time since the 1960s represents less than half of these.

Pakistan, India's neighbor and with whom it has a tense relationship, has increased its arms imports by 43 percent, with China being its main partner, which supplies it with 82 percent.

In general, Asian countries have decreased their arms imports, with the exception of Japan, with 155 percent, and South Korea, although with an increase notably lower than that of its neighbor with 6.5 percent. In China, imports have fallen by 44 percent as a result of reduced dependence on Russia in favor of local production.

"There is no doubt that the high levels of arms imports by Japan and other US allies and partners in Asia and Oceania are largely due to one key factor: concern about China's ambitions. The United States, which shares their perception of the Chinese threat, it is a growing supplier in the region," said Arms Transfer Program researcher Siemon Wezeman.

In fact, Washington has become the largest arms supplier to Asia and Oceania for the first time in 25 years with 34 percent of the volume. Australia has been the world's eighth largest importer of weapons, although these have decreased by 21 percent.

FALL IN IMPORTS IN AFRICA AND AMERICA

On the African continent, arms imports have fallen by more than half mainly due to reductions by Algeria and Morocco, with 77 and 46 percent respectively. In the sub-Saharan Africa region, China has accounted for 19 percent of arms deliveries, surpassing Russia as the main regional supplier.

In American countries, imports have been reduced by 7.2 percent. The main buyer is the United States, followed by Brazil and Canada.