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U.S. tops world in defense spending; Russia falls out of top 5

By Clyde Hughes
U.S. tops world in defense spending; Russia falls out of top 5
A Russian military official walks in front of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system. A report Monday said Russia has spent less on its military over the past two years. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

April 29 (UPI) -- The United States spent more than any other country on defense in 2018, but Russia fell out of the top five for the first time in nearly 15 years, a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Monday.

The report detailed regional and selected national military expenditure data for 2018 and trends over the past 10 years. The SIPRI database outlines military spending by countries from 1949 to 2018.

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According to the report, the United States spent $649 billion on defense for 2018, far and away more than any other country, followed by China with $250 billion and Saudi Arabia with $67.6 billion. India spent $66 billion and France nearly $64 billion. Russia was sixth, with $61.4 billion.

"Starting in 2016, Russia's military budget has trended downwards," the report said. "However, due to a one-off government debt repayment of almost $11.8 billion to Russian arms producers in 2016, spending rose 7.2 percent. Without this payment, Russia military spending would have fallen by 11 percent."

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The report noted Russia spending is still 27 percent higher than it was in 2009. Russia had been in the top five since 2006.

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U.S. spending increased by 4.6 percent and continues to spend more on defense than the next eight countries combined, the study said.

Concern over Russia's military, though, continues to drive spending in Europe. Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania all showed an increase in military spending.

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"The increases in Central and Eastern Europe are largely due to growing perceptions of a threat from Russia," Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at SIRPI, said. "This is despite the fact that Russian military spending has fallen for the past two years."

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