The war in Ukraine is fueling arms purchases in Europe

Due to the war caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has become one of the most important places in the world, the imports of weapons of European countries have almost doubled. The US strengthened its position as a major global supplier, accounting for more than half of all sales to Europe.

The volume of Europe's global arms imports increased by 94% in the four years ending in 2023, compared with the immediately preceding four years, and its weight in the world market rose by 10 percentage points, surpassing Asia and Oceania by 21%. region and the Middle East, according to recent data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on arms transfers.

This evolution is illustrated by the war caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the largest conflict in Europe since World War II, which began in February 2022 and is still ongoing.

During this period, Ukraine became the world's fourth largest arms importer, accounting for 23% of the region's arms imports. “At least 30 states supplied weapons to Ukraine [do início] SIPRI points out that “largely Russian war, mainly military aid, meant that Ukraine was the world's largest arms importer in 2023.” In fact, Ukraine is the only largest arms importer in the four-year period 2019-2023 that is not in Asia and Oceania or the Middle East.

The list is led by India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, followed by Ukraine and fifth, Pakistan, with 170 identified imported weapons. “The five largest importers accounted for 35% of all arms imports,” SIPRI points out. The 10 largest importers represented 53% of arms imports.

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The list illustrates that the Asia and Oceania region remains the main destination for arms transfers, although it has lost weight, falling four percentage points to 37%, while the Middle East has lost three points to 30%. .

In Europe, Ukraine is followed by the United Kingdom, with 11% and the Netherlands, with 9% of imports.

Globally, and despite the highest number of armed conflicts recorded since World War II in recent years, according to United Nations data, the volume of arms transfers fell by 3.3% between 2019 and 2023, compared to the previous four years.

The United States of America (USA) continues to be the largest arms exporter, increasing sales by 17% during the period and gaining eight percentage points in market share to 42%. They account for 55% of weapons sold to Europe, up from 35% in the previous period.

“The US provided arms to 107 states in 2019-23, more than the next two largest exporters combined. The amount of arms exported by the United States was 282% greater than that of the second largest exporter, France,” points out SIPRI, which identified 66 arms exporting countries.

The top buyers of North American weapons are Saudi Arabia, Japan and Qatar – the main Middle East target region – but Ukraine also appears on the list, with the US responsible for 39% of Kiev-made arms imports. Germany is responsible for 14% and Poland 13%.

SIPRI technicians noted that Russia, in its war with Ukraine, “depended mainly on its own industry to obtain its main weapons”, but was in the market for “flying bombs” (drones) from Iran and ballistic missile strikes in the North. Korea, the UN in this case.

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After the US, French arms exports rose 47%, while Russia's exports fell 53%, relegating the country to second place on the list. China and Germany follow, which also sell less.

“The five largest arms exporters represented 75% of all arms exports” and “the United States and Western European countries together represented 72% of all arms exported”, up 10 points from the previous period.

Arms sales to the African continent, where the number of conflicts has increased several times, its weight in the market decreased by 4.5 points to 4.3%.

In sub-Saharan Africa, which is “acquiring arms from a diverse range of suppliers competing to increase influence in the sub-region”, China overtook Russia, with a 19% share, two percentage points more than its rivals. However, sales of both declined, 23% in the first case and 44% in the second. France is third.

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