- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Global military spending increased last year for the first time since 2011, reaching nearly $1.7 trillion, according to data released Tuesday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

U.S. spending dropped by 2.4 percent but the Pentagon still remains the top military spender in the world with a total of $596 billion in 2015, the report stated.

Saudi Arabia spent $87.2 billion, moving past Russia to take the third spot on the list after China. The Kremlin’s military spending increased by 7.5 percent to $66.4 billion, while China’s spending also rose by 7.4 percent reaching $215 billion.

Russia’s fall from the top three was largely due to the fall in value of the ruble, according to the report.

Similarly, the drop in value of the euro led to the United Kingdom ($55.5 billion) flipping spots with France ($50.9 billion) at fifth and seventh overall, respectively.

The largest increase in military spending over the past decade came from Iraq, according to the report. The country spent $13.1 billion in 2015 — an increase of more than 500 percent from 2006 — as it has rebuilt its armed forces following the U.S. withdrawal and rise of the Islamic State group.

Spending in Central Europe increased by 13 percent, mostly in countries bordering Ukraine and Russia, a reflection of the growing fear of Russian aggression.

Spending dropped in Western Europe, but only by 1.3 percent, a slower rate than previous years, reflecting concern about Russia and the Islamic State, according to the report.

The research institute monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive data source available on military expenditure. It defines military expenditures as government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, and central administration, command and support.

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