Ukraine was not the No.1 arms importer in the world in 2022, despite the scale of Russian invasion – Technology Org

Ever since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Ukraine’s Western allies have been providing a lot of weapons. In fact, the first shipments of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as other weapons, started coming before, when the Russian invasion became imminent. And yet Ukraine somehow wasn’t the world’s largest weapon importer of 2022. It was actually not even the second.

NLAW anti-tank missile in Ukraine.

NLAW anti-tank missile in Ukraine. Image credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0)

Ukraine was the third largest importer of weapons in the world in 2022, according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute. Qatar and India actually imported more. In fact, India has been one of the top weapons importers in the world for some years now.

This might be explained by the rapid growth of the population in India, as well as tension with China and Pakistan. In the period between 2018 and 2022 Ukraine was the 14th largest importer of weapons in the world – still a high place, but 2022 changed everything.

The Stockholm Peace Research Institute has found that the top five arms exporters to Ukraine are as follows: the USA (35% of total imports), Poland (17%), Germany (11%), Great Britain (10%) and the Czech Republic Republic (4.4%).

This list, of course, is likely to change later, as 2023 started with huge military aid packages to Ukraine. Ukraine is not getting ready to receive Western tanks like Leopard 2, Challenger 2, M1 Abrams. Furthermore, Ukraine is getting a fleet of MiG-29s from Slovakia and Poland. It is likely that Ukraine will be the 2nd or maybe even the 3rd top importer of weapons in the world in 2023.

But what about the exports? Well, the USA retains the first place and strengthens its position, increasing exports from 33% in 2013-2017 to 40% in 2018-2022. Russia is still in second place, but its market share in the export sector shrunk from 22 to 16%. At the same time, France is ramping up its military exports – they grew from 7.1% to 11%.

It will be interesting to see how this space changes in the future. Neighbors of the Russian Federation are looking to arm themselves better, because at this point it is clear that Russia is not to be trusted in terms of security.

Because of the same reasons, Western defense companies are ramping up their production and aggressively investing in defense technology. At the same time, Ukraine will need more military aid in the future – the war is not even close to being over. Finally, the world is dealing with an economic crisis, energy market redistribution, shortages of components, and other issues.

In the future, Ukraine might become a strong payer in the defense industry itself. It has several large companies, producing howitzers, modernizing tanks, and making transport aircraft. German company Rheinmetall is looking to build a tank factory in Ukraine very soon.


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