Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may well mark the largest shift in the balance of power in Europe since the end of the Cold War – and may also prove to be the largest military conflict on the continent since World War II. The invasion, which has been described as a full-scale attack, comes after four consecutive years of rising military spending worldwide.
A large share of military spending typically goes towards weapons development and improving defensive capabilities, which, along with strategic international alliances, are meant to deter acts of aggression. NATO, a military alliance that includes the U.S. and 29 other countries, was formed after World War II, specifically to check potential aggression from the Soviet Union. NATO members are expected to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense.
Notably, Ukraine is both a former Soviet republic and an aspiring NATO member. Though Russian military spending topped $61.7 billion in 2020, eclipsing Ukraine’s expenditure of $5.9 billion, it is a small fraction of U.S. military spending, which, at over $778 billion in 2020, is far and away the largest in the world.
Using data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, compiled by the World Bank, 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries spending the most on war. Countries are ranked by their 2020 military expenditure in current U.S. dollars.
We also reviewed data on spending as a share of GDP, which, among the countries on this list, ranges from 0.6% to 10.9%. Total armed services personnel in the countries on this list range from 15,000 up to 3 million. Here is a look at the companies profiting the most from war.
In each of these measures, Ukraine is outmatched by Russia. Ukraine spends the equivalent of 4.1% of its GDP on its military, compared to Russia’s 4.3% expenditure, and its military personnel total just 311,000, compared to 1.5 million in Russia.
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