Europe’s arms imports jump amid tensions over last five years with Russia: Think-tank

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Arms shipments to Europe jumped amid deteriorating relations with Russia in the five years through 2021, even as the global arms trade slowed, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think-tank said on Monday.

Compared with the previous five-year period, international transfers of major arms shrank 5 percent globally, SIPRI said in a statement. But imports to states in Europe increased 19 percent -- the biggest growth in any world region.

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“The severe deterioration in relations between most European states and Russia was an important driver of growth in European arms imports, especially for states that cannot meet all their requirements through their national arms industries,” SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said.

Britain, Norway, and the Netherlands were Europe’s biggest importers, it said. Ukraine’s imports of major arms were very limited in the period despite tensions with Russia in the run-up to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

“Other European states are also expected to increase their arms imports significantly over the coming decade, having recently placed large orders for major arms, in particular combat aircraft from the USA,” the think-tank said.

The United States remained the world’s biggest arms exporter, growing its market share to 39 percent from 32 percent.

SIPRI’s data is based on information and estimates on international arms transfers including sales, gifts, and production under license and reflects delivery volumes, not the financial value of deals.

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