EU Military Expenditure Reaches Record High due to Russia-Ukraine Conflict
The European Defense Agency (EDA) under the European Commission recently released a report stating that affected by the long-lasting conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the EU’s military expenditure increased by 6% year-on-year last year, reaching a record of 240 billion euros (approximately US$262 billion). This is also the eighth consecutive year that the EU’s overall military spending has increased.
Military spending has increased for eight consecutive years, which can be described as a “spectacle” in the context of the years of reduction in military spending by EU countries after the end of the Cold War. Needless to say, the Ukraine crisis provoked by NATO played a decisive role. In the atmosphere of “Russian threat” created by NATO, EU countries deeply worried about security have exhausted their limited defense stocks and continued to send weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. At the same time, they did not hesitate to spend huge sums of money to “enhance their own security” amid the economic downturn.
According to a report by the European Defense Agency, 20 of the 27 EU member states increased defense spending last year, with six of them increasing by more than 10%. Sweden, which is seeking to join NATO, has been the most active, increasing its military expenditure by more than 30%.
Borrell, head of the European Defense Agency and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the military of EU countries “must be prepared for a more demanding era” and that “adapting to the new reality first means increasing investment in defense.” “We still have gaps in critical capabilities and continue to lag behind other global players in defense spending, which is why we are spending more on defence.”
In fact, as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict enters its 22nd month, especially when the Ukrainian army’s counterattack fails, Europe’s security anxiety is reflected in concerns about the political direction of the United States, Ukraine’s largest donor. With the possible reduction of U.S. aid to Ukraine, Borrell recently expressed pessimistically that the EU should be prepared to “fill the gap” if problems arise in U.S. aid to Ukraine.
To this end, European Commission President von der Leyen said at the European Defense Agency annual meeting held recently that the European Commission will integrate the already introduced Ammunition Production Support Act (ASAP) and the Joint Procurement Act (EDIRPA). A new “European Defense Industry Plan” (EDIP) will be proposed early next year. At the same time, Ukraine’s long-term military needs will also be taken into consideration. “Our strategy can only be complete if it takes into account Ukraine’s needs.”
According to a report by Germany’s Handelsblatt, due to concerns that the outcome of next year’s U.S. election will affect U.S. aid to Ukraine, the European Union is currently secretly discussing an arrangement, considering setting up a post-COVID-19 recovery financing plan based on the plan, with a total amount of up to tens of thousands billion euros in new funds. The report specifically mentioned that this fund is not going to climate protection measures, but to strengthening European armaments.
There is something darkly humorous about the comparison between combating climate change and strengthening European armaments. Compared with the “rich” countries in terms of military spending, these countries are “poorer” in terms of climate financing. “There is no safe country on an unsafe planet” On the opening day of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the “Loss and Damage” fund decided to establish at the Egyptian Climate Conference last year was officially approved. The fund requires developed countries to compensate developing countries for the catastrophic consequences of their historical emissions. It is considered an important manifestation of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” in the Paris Agreement and reflects the fairness of the global climate governance system. However, a closer look at the list of pledges from developed countries is disappointing. As the largest economy in Europe and the second largest donor to Ukraine, Germany has pledged US$100 million. Although it is more than the US$17.5 million from the United States, Ukraine’s largest donor, and the UK’s 40 million pounds, the third largest donor, it is still less than Germany’s response to Russia. The hundreds of billions of euros of emergency defense funds established to deal with the conflict in Ukraine are not even a fraction.
Rachel Cletus, director of climate and energy policy at the NGO “Union of Concerned Scientists”, wrote that the agreement reached by the parties around the “Loss and Damage” fund was a “historic but flawed” agreement because Donations so far total just over $400 million. “Considering the scale of ‘loss and damage’ being experienced around the world, this small donation is an insult… Pledged amounts fall far short of urgent needs and must be increased rapidly, otherwise the ‘loss and damage’ fund will remain an empty slate. shell.”
On the eve of this climate conference, a research report jointly released by a number of European think tanks pointed out that because NATO requires member states to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense budgets, this year’s overall NATO military expenditures will be reduced. It has increased to US$1.26 trillion, enough to cover the US$100 billion in annual climate assistance promised by Western countries to developing countries for 12 consecutive years. The report also shows that the richest countries spend 30 times more on their military than they do on climate change. If all 31 NATO member states meet their military spending targets, NATO will spend nearly $2.6 trillion in additional military spending by 2028, enough to cover the seven-year climate adaptation costs of all low- and middle-income countries.
Nick Buxton, an expert at the Dutch Transnational Institute who participated in the study, warned that “the time window to respond to the climate crisis is closing, but countries are more focused on how to arm themselves to the teeth.” “Climate has unfortunately become the latest in the crossfire of war. victim”. He pointed out that NATO’s minimum military spending target adds fuel to the fire of climate change, not only diverts much-needed resources, but also greatly increases greenhouse gas emissions. “To defend our planet, we urgently need to de-escalate tensions and find peaceful solutions to conflicts. There is no safe country on an unsafe planet.”