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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has led to a substantial flow of military aid to Kyiv from the United States and Europe made Ukraine the world’s third largest importer of arms in 2022, a Swedish think tank said Monday.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, reported that from 1991, when Ukraine became independent amid the fall of the Soviet Union, until the end of 2021, Ukraine imported few major arms.
But Moscow’s invasion on Feb. 24 last year markedly changed that. Only Qatar — which has dramatically ramped up its arms purchasing in the past decade — and India imported more arms in the year, SIPRI said in its report on global arms transfers.
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Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program noted that even as arms transfers declined globally last year, “those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states.” He said that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European states want to import more arms, “faster.”
SIPRI said that the export of arms has long been dominated by the United States and Russia with the two countries being the largest and second-largest arms exporters for the past three decades.
A Ukrainian paratrooper aims to fire by MSLR BM-21 “Grad” towards Russian positions at the frontline near Kreminna, Ukraine, on March 9, 2023. Ukraine was the third-largest importer of arms in 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
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However, the gap between the two has been widening significantly, while that between Russia and the third largest arms supplier, France, has narrowed. The think tank said it was likely that the invasion of Ukraine will further limit Russia’s arms exports due to Moscow’s need to prioritize supplying its own armed forces and low demand from other states due to trade sanctions.
SIPRI’s data showed that U.S. arms exports increased by 14% between the periods 2013–17 and 2018–22, and Washington accounted for 40% of global arms exports in 2018–22.
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Meanwhile, Russia’s arms exports fell by 31% between the two periods, and its share of global arms exports decreased from 22% to 16%, while France’s share increased from 7.1% to 11%.
SIPRI, established in 1966, is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.