New Arms Race Intensifies in 2024

International Institute for Strategic Studies: in 2023, global defense spending increased by 9%

In 2023, global spending for defense, and more specifically for the 21st century arms race, increased 9% year-over-year to a record $2.2 trillion. According to a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) entitled “Military Balance 2024,” this year “military spending will increase again” because “the world is entering a period of greater danger.”

Military appropriations in the North Atlantic Alliance countries are growing by leaps and bounds. According to an IISS study, they exceed 50% of global spending. Military spending by NATO, China, India, and Russia combined accounts for more than 70% of defense spending in the world.

IISS military analysts estimate that Russia, which has been engaged in an armed conflict with Ukraine for nearly two years, allocates “about 30% of its annual government spending to the armed forces.” Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed that 11 trillion rubles, which is 29% of all state appropriations, will be allocated from the state budget for defense in 2024. Before the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s defense spending was less than 14% of its budget.

Despite economic problems, Germany has achieved its goal of increasing defense spending to 2% of GDP within 10 years. It was set by NATO in 2014. According to German government sources, military appropriations in 2024 will total 73.41 billion euros. This is a historic high: the last time Germany allocated 2% of GDP to defense was in 1992. As German experts point out, “during the Cold War, this share usually exceeded 3% of GDP, and in 2023 it amounted to 1.57%, or 56.64 billion euros.”

Poland is arming itself as well. As stated by the Minister of Defense of this former socialist country Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, “by the end of 2024, the Polish armed forces will total about 220 thousand people, and their number will increase from year to year.”

There are those who talk about the need to equip the EU countries’ armed forces with nuclear weapons. German Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP), reacting to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism of NATO, advocated arming the EU with “its own nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Russia.” In an interview with German newspaper Bild, Weber, who also holds the position of deputy chairman of Germany’s Christian Social Union (CSU), said: “Europe must become so strong on a military level that no one would want to compete with us. This requires European deterrence, which includes nuclear weapons.”

Weber’s initiative for a European nuclear deterrent was immediately rejected by Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Bundestag member Roderich Kiesewetter as “absolutely absurd.” He warned that such a move would push the U.S. “out of Europe and increase fivefold our spending on defense, which is very high already.”