China, Russia increase military spending as US spending falls

The United States is reducing its military spending while the rest of the world, particularly Russia and China, is increasing it, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 
 
U.S. military spending fell by 7.8 percent in 2013, while spending in the rest of the world increased 1.8 percent, the report found.
 
China and Russia spent the most on their militaries after the United States, and both made significant increases last year. China’s spending increased 7.4 percent, and Russia’s grew 4.8 percent.
 
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Russia’s bump comes at a time when its military actions are at the center of increasing tension with the United States. Russian troops occupied Crimea and are now massed on the border with Eastern Ukraine, raising fears Russia will annex more of the country.
 
This newly active military is in the midst of a 10-year plan to spend $705 billion on upgrading 70 percent of its equipment by 2020. The surge in spending has meant that Russia spent a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on its military than the United States did for the first time since 2003, according to the report. 
 
“A pattern has been established in recent years whereby military spending has fallen in the West — that is, in North America, Western and Central Europe, and Oceania — while it has increased in other regions,” the report said. 
 
While military spending has risen in China and Russia and fallen in the United States, the U.S. still vastly outspends its competitors. American spending was $640 billion in 2013, compared to an estimated $188 billion in China and $87.8 billion in Russia.
 
About half of the lower cost of the U.S. military last year was due to a reduction in war spending as forces draw down in Afghanistan.
 
But budget cuts from sequestration, though alleviated somewhat by last year's budget deal, also play a role. The Pentagon budget proposes cutting the Army to its troop lowest levels since before World War II.
 
“The development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations mean that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies and in space can no longer be taken for granted,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned when announcing the proposal in February. 
 
Also on the upswing in military spending is Saudi Arabia, which moved from seventh to fourth place on the list of top spenders, with a 14 percent increase to $67 billion.
 
SIPRI, an independent conflict research institute, said in a press release the increase was “possibly due to tensions with Iran but also the desire to maintain strong and loyal security forces to insure against potential ‘Arab Spring’ type protests.”