US arms market benefits from war in Ukraine, while Russia’s arms market shrinks

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

The war in Ukraine has notably impacted the global arms trade in various ways, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The institute compared the latest period from 2019 to 2023 with the period from 2014 to 2018, observing several significant changes, some of which are dramatic.

For instance, the overall global arms trade decreased by 3.3 percent compared to the years 2014-18. However, arms imports to Europe nearly doubled, largely due to the war in Ukraine. The majority of arms supplies to Europe, specifically 55 percent, originated from the United States. This marks a 20-percentage point increase from the 2014-18 period, indicating Europe’s growing dependency on the U.S. for arms.

Mainly through increased exports to Europe, the U.S. was able to boost its global arms exports by 17 percent. The U.S. share in international arms trade also significantly rose from 34 to 42 percent. The U.S. supplied military equipment to 107 countries worldwide, more than in any previous five-year period, further establishing its leadership in the field.

“The United States have expanded their global role as an arms supplier, and it is an important aspect of their foreign policy,” writes Mathew George from SIPRI, noting this occurs as “the economic and geopolitical dominance of the USA is being challenged by some emerging economies.”

Not surprisingly, Ukraine, especially, dramatically increased its arms imports among European countries. While in the 2014-18 reporting period it occupied a distant place, partly because it produced much of its arms and was minimally dependent on importing them, in the 2019-23 period (with Russian aggression starting in 2022) it became the fourth-largest arms importer in the world after India, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Ukraine recorded a 6,600 percent increase in arms imports.

The principal arms suppliers to Ukraine during 2019-23 were the United States (39 percent), followed by Germany (14 percent) and Poland (13 percent).

As before, the top five arms exporters globally are the U.S., France, Russia, China, and Germany. However, their order on this list has changed compared to the years 2014-18, also due to the war in Ukraine.

France has replaced Russia in second place. While Russian arms exports significantly decreased by 53 percent, French exports grew by 47 percent. The number of countries receiving Russian military equipment also drastically decreased.

While in 2019, 31 countries received arms from Moscow, in 2023, there were only 12, with India and China being the most significant. These two countries are also those that have had no reservations about continuing trade with Russia in other goods, such as oil and gas.

Share This Article