Europe saw the largest growth in arms imports in 2017-2021 compared to the previous five-year period against the backdrop of an overall decline in global arms trade, according to a report released Monday.
Weapons imports by European countries jumped 19% between 2012–2016 and 2017–2021, accounting for 13% of global arms transfers which showed an overall decrease of 4.6% in the same period, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) stated in its report.
"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," said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
Read more: Pakistan among biggest importers in Asia for major arms: SIPRI
"….increasing or continuing high rates of weapons imports to places like Europe, East Asia, Oceania and the Middle East contributed to worrying arms build-ups," Wezeman stressed.
The largest arms importers in Europe were the UK, Norway and the Netherlands in the five-year period, while Ukraine's imports were very limited despite armed conflict in its eastern region.
Globally, the top three arms importers were India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in 2017–2021.
India's arms imports fell 21% in the last five years, but it still remained the largest importer globally. India is planning large-scale arms imports in the next few years from several suppliers, it added.
The report noted that weapons imports played an important role in security developments in the Gulf region due to conflict in Yemen and tensions between Iran and other states.
Arms imports by Saudi Arabia jumped 27% between 2012-2016 and 2017–2021, while Qatar’s arms imports soared by 227%, propelling it from the 22nd-largest arms importer to the sixth-largest.
On the contrary, arms imports by the UAE shrank by 41%, taking it from the third-largest to the ninth-largest arms importer globally.
In arms exports, the US and France saw a rise, while Russia, China and Germany posted a drop in the last five years.
The US's weapons exports rose 14% from the previous five year period, increasing its global share to 39% in 2017–2021, while France made up 11% of all arms exports with a 59% rise in its global share.
Russia, which accounted for 19% of total major arms exports in 2017–2021, saw its exports fall 26% in the same period, due to a fall in deliveries to two recipients: India and Vietnam.
Following the US, Russia and France, China was the fourth-largest arms exporter and Germany the fifth largest.
Chinese weapons exports fell 31%, while Germany saw a 19% decrease in the last five years.