Armenia markedly ahead of Azerbaijan in militarization

The Bonn International Conversion Center (BICC) introduced on Wednesday, February 19, the annual global militarization index. The general trend is an increase in the level of military activity, defense spending, and the number of conflicts in the world. The first place has traditionally been occupied by Israel, where with a population of about 9 million people, the armed forces amounted to 169 thousand troops and 465 thousand reservists. Military spending accounts for 4.3 percent of GDP.

Israel is followed by Singapore, followed by Armenia, Cyprus, South Korea, Russia, Greece, Jordan, Belarus and Azerbaijan. All countries, except Azerbaijan, retained their place in the top ten (six of them are European). Azerbaijan in terms of militarization rose from 12th to 10th place. The total militarization of Europe is growing due to fear of Russia.

The authors of the report, Max Mutschler and Marius Bales, note Russia separately (6th place)  in the introduction as a country that still has one of the largest military capabilities in the world and over the past few years has modernized military equipment and improved its defense technological capabilities. At the same time, it is indicated that from 2016 to 2018, Russian military spending fell from $ 82.6 billion to $ 64.2 billion (as well as their share in GDP from 5.5 to 3.9 percent). The authors of the study suggest that the reason is in the difficult economic situation in Russia and the sanctions of the West.

NATO countries in Europe, primarily the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe, meanwhile, launched large-scale long-term weapons programs, which the authors of the index associate primarily with tension in relations with Russia and the conflict in Ukraine. The military spending of Lithuania (26th place from 32nd) and Latvia (44th place from 73rd) increased over the year from 1.7 to 2.0% of GDP. Since the beginning of the conflict in the Donbass, the militarization of Ukraine has continued, whose military budget in 2019 grew by 21% to 4.4 billion dollars. Partly the militarization of Europe is also associated with the pressure of US President Donald Trump on NATO partners.

The index considers data from 154 countries of the world for several indicators

The authors of the index estimate the size of the army, population, military spending and their relationship with the country's GDP, the overall level of economic development and government. For example, the United States was in 31 positions, although no country spends as much money on its military as the United States (more than $ 633 billion in 2018), and this makes up only 3.2% of GDP.

Germany, which ranks eighth in the world in terms of military spending ($ 49.5 billion, 1.2% of GDP), takes only 97th place in the militarization index due to the overall significant economic volume. The authors of the report note that in 2020 Germany’s military spending will be greater, but the spending will mainly be related to the foreign operations of the Bundeswehr.

All countries of the Near and Middle East are characterized by a high degree of militarization. With the exception of Iraq, they are all in the top 30 of the index. As in previous years, Singapore leads Asia (2nd place in the overall ranking), and in absolute terms, China (94th place) invests the most in its armed forces in the region.

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