Bulgaria has experienced a staggering increase in arms imports, rising by 920% between 2019 and 2023 compared to the period of 2014 to 2018. This significant surge in arms procurement was revealed in a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), highlighting a notable shift in Bulgaria‘s defense strategy.

The SIPRI report also shed light on the global arms trade landscape, indicating a substantial rise in arms imports by European countries, nearly doubling over the past five years. Ukraine, amidst ongoing conflict with Russia, emerged as the leading importer, witnessing a remarkable 6633% increase in imports, reflecting the nation’s heightened security concerns.

In contrast, Russia’s arms exports witnessed a sharp decline, plummeting by 54% during the same period. This decline in exports underscores the impact of the war in Ukraine on global arms trade dynamics. Despite disputing the figures, Russia’s Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) acknowledged the significant downturn in its arms exports.

The United States retained its position as the leading arms exporter globally, followed closely by France, according to the SIPRI report. The comparison of two distinct periods, 2014-2018 and 2019-2023, provides valuable insights into the evolving trends in the international arms trade landscape.

Bulgaria‘s remarkable increase in arms imports surpasses that of neighboring countries such as Romania (180%) and Serbia (584%), while remaining comparable to Kosovo (833%) and Hungary (747%). However, Bulgaria‘s import rate falls short of the Czech Republic’s astonishing surge of 3125%, indicating varying degrees of defense procurement strategies across European nations.

Leading the list of arms exporters is the United States, which experienced a notable 17% increase in exports, elevating its global export share from 34% to 42% between 2019 and 2023. During this period, US arms exports to Europe surged from 35% to 55%, marking a significant rise in shipments to the region.

The United States supplied arms to a remarkable 107 countries, a record-breaking figure surpassing any previous five-year period and outstripping all other exporters in terms of reach and volume.

SIPRI highlighted the US’s enhanced role as a dominant arms supplier, emphasizing its pivotal position in global geopolitics by expanding its arms exports to a diverse array of countries.

France emerged as the unexpected second-largest exporter, witnessing a remarkable 47% increase in its export share. The majority of French arms exports, accounting for 42%, were directed towards Asia and Oceania, with India standing out as the leading buyer. Notably, Indian imports of French arms surged by 4.7% during the specified period.

Due to Russia’s diminishing presence, France has risen to become the second-largest arms exporter after the USA for the first time in SIPRI‘s reports dating back to 1950.

While Russia exported weapons to 31 countries in 2019, this number dropped significantly to just 12 countries last year. The majority of Russian exports, totaling 68%, were directed towards Asia and Oceania, with India and China being the leading recipients at 34% and 21%, respectively.

SIPRI noted that the reduced share of upcoming arms deliveries from Russia indicates that Russian exports are unlikely to reach the levels seen in the periods of 2014-2018 or 2019-2023, at least in the short term.

According to the director of Russia’s service for military-technical cooperation FSVTS, SIPRI‘s assessments do not accurately portray the reality and are based on their own estimations, which differ from official reports due to methodological disparities. Moscow relies on fixed commodity prices outlined in treaties, while SIPRI adopts a quantitative approach that assigns equal value to the same type of production.

Other countries in the top 10 include Italy, which saw an 86% increase in exports, as well as South Korea with a 12% increase. Meanwhile, China experienced a 5.3% reduction in exports, while Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and Israel all recorded decreases ranging from 3.3% to 25%.

Meanwhile, a significant surge in arms imports has been observed in Asia and Oceania, with India reclaiming its position as the world’s top arms importer, followed by Saudi Arabia, whose imports decreased by 28%, and Qatar, which experienced a staggering 396% increase in imports.

While India has historically been a major importer of arms from Russia, recent data shows that for the first time since 1960-1964, Russian companies’ share of India’s arms imports has dropped to less than half.

Additionally, Japan has shown a notable increase in arms imports by 155%, while South Korea experienced a 6.5% rise. Conversely, China’s imports decreased by 44%, primarily due to a shift towards domestically produced systems, replacing imported weapons, many of which were sourced from Russia.

SIPRI suggests that the growth in arms imports among US allies in East and Southeast Asia is driven by concerns over China’s perceived ambitions, a sentiment shared by the US.

Siemon Wezeman, a Senior Researcher at SIPRI, emphasized that the consistent high levels of arms imports in Asia and Oceania are largely influenced by anxiety regarding China’s geopolitical aspirations.

In the Middle East, the US remains the primary arms importer, followed by France, Germany, and Italy. While there has been a decline in arms imports at the regional level, countries like Egypt continue to import weapons for use in ongoing conflicts in areas such as the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Source: Bulgaria’s Arms Imports Skyrocket – Novinite.com – Sofia News Agency


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