A new report says the UK moved into the world's top five military spenders in 2021 as the US remains the biggest spender by some distance. The annual report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) also revealed that for the first time ever, global military expenditure exceeded US$ 2 trillion.
The top five highest-spending nations together accounted for 62% of all global defense spending, it said.
According to SIPRI, the UK was the fourth-largest spender on defense worldwide in 2021, up two places from the previous year, accounting for US$ 68.4bn - a 3% increase from 2020.
The UK was one place ahead of Russia in fifth with Moscow spending US$ 65.9bn - a rise of 2.9%.
The US has remained the world's biggest defense spender by some distance, spending US$ 801bn in 2021 - a fall of 1.4% from 2020.
The report also detailed that in Europe, where military spending has increased 19% since 2012, just eight out of the continent's 26 nations that form part of NATO met the 2% gross domestic product (GDP) target on defense spending. Nine European nations hit the GDP target in 2020, the report says.
SIPRI says the UK is the second-largest spender on defense across NATO, behind only the US.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's military spending grew by 72% between 2014 and 2021 and has increased by 142% since 2012.
This upward trend was interrupted in 2021 when Ukraine’s military spending fell by 8.5% to $5.9 billion - 3.2% of the country's GDP.
Elsewhere, the UK, US and Australian trilateral security agreement - AUKUS - announced last year contributed to Australia's defence expenditure increasing by 4% from 2020 to $31.8 billion. Since 2012, Australia's military spending has increased by 42%.
The top 10 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2021, according to SIPRI, were:
1. United States US$801 billion
2. China US$293 billion (estimated)
3. India US$76.6 billion
4. United Kingdom US$68.4 billion
5. Russia US$65.9 billion
6. France US$56.6 billion
7. Germany US$56 billion
8. Saudi Arabia US$55.6 billion (estimated)
9. Japan US$54.1 billion
10. South Korea US$50.2 billion
SIPRI was established in 1966 and conducts research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Its annual reports on global military expenditure provide analysis based on open source information.