Saudi Arabia Elbows Russia Out of Third Place in Military Spending

Analysts explain part of the Saudi splurge on a more than year-old costly war in Yemen.

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at a storage facility destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Houdieda, January 6, 2016.
Reuters

Saudi Arabia has overtaken Russia as the world's third largest military spender, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says in a report this week.

Part of this splurge can be attributed to Saudi Arabia's entanglement in a costly war in Yemen, which has raged for more than a year now, The Washington Post reported. Since 2006, Saudi annual military spending has nearly doubled. That figure is roughly the same, too, for Russia.

"Saudi Arabia overtook Russia to become the third-largest spender, mainly due to the fall in the value of the rouble," SIPRI noted.

A drop in oil prices since 2014 has led to a cut in weapons spending by other countries such as Venezuela, where it decreased by 64 percent, Angola, cut by 40 percent, Bahrain Chad, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Oman and South Sudan.

"Saudi Arabia overtook Russia to become the third-largest spender, mainly due to the fall in the value of the rouble," it noted.

In Asia, spending rose 5.4 percent in  2015, largely due to China's build-up and an increased wariness of neighbors, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, the Post writes based on SIPRI's report.

Globally, military spending totaled almost $1.7 trillion in 2015, an increased of 1 percent in real terms over the previous year. The United States remained the world's biggest spender, and another top spender, China, saw its military expenditures rise by 7.4 percent to $215 billion.

Military spending in 2015 presents contrasting trends," said Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of SIPRI’s military expenditure project, in a statement.

"On the one hand, spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world; on the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fueled surge in military spending of the past decade. This volatile economic and political situation creates an uncertain picture for the years to come."