Countries in Europe have sharply increased their imports of major weapons in response to tensions with Russia, a prominent think tank has said, with Ukraine emerging as the world’s third-largest arms importer following Moscow’s invasion last year.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in a new report on Monday, said European states bucked global trends and increased their imports of major arms by 47 percent in the five-year period between 2018 and 2022.
NATO states in Europe saw an even larger increase, growing their imports of major weaponry by 65 percent in the same period.
In contrast, global levels of arms transfers decreased by 5.1 percent.
“Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to 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,” he added.
The United States, France and South Korea were the biggest suppliers to NATO states in Europe over the past five years, while the US, Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom supplied the most weapons to Ukraine last year.
Many of the arms supplied to Ukraine, however, were second-hand items from existing stocks. They included some 228 artillery pieces and an estimated 5,000 guided artillery rockets from the US, 280 tanks from Poland and more than 7,000 anti-tank missiles from the UK, SIPRI said.