Finnish soldierInternationalIndiaAfricaThe Nordic country’s military expenditure has risen from 1.3 to 2 percent of its GDP within a matter of several years, underpinned by a number of costly purchases such as a new fleet of US-made F-35 jets.Having formally joined NATO earlier this month, Finland has recorded its highest year-on-year spike in defense spending since 1962, the height of the Cold War.Finland, which shares the longest border with Russia in Europe at 1,300 kilometers, recorded the most drastic spending boost in the EU (36 percent), underpinned by a number of costly purchases, such as a new fleet of 64 F-35 fighter jets from US weapons company Lockheed Martin. The 10-billion-euro procurement was billed as the single largest splurge in the Nordic country’s history.During the late Cold War-era, Finland spent approximately 1.9 percent of its GDP on defense, yet saw its spending plummet in the subsequent years and reach its lowest in 2001 at 1.1 percent of GDP. Barely two years earlier, the defense expenditure still stood at a meager 1.3 percent of GDP. However, last year alone, Finland’s outgoing five-party government led by the Social Democrats agreed to add more than 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in defense spending, citing hostilities in Ukraine as a pretext.In doing so, Finland notably eclipsed its fellow European nations, such as Lithuania, Sweden and Poland, which saw the next biggest spikes in their defense budgets at 27 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively.Sputnik ExplainsFinland Joins NATO: What Benefits Can the Alliance Expect?5 April, 12:07 GMTAs a new-fledged NATO member, Finland has emerged as one of the top military spenders in the alliance, spending about 2 percent of GDP. In 2022, only the US (3.5 percent of GDP), Poland (2.4 percent), Estonia (2.3 percent) and the UK (2.1 percent) spent more on defense per capita than Finland. Despite NATO’s spending goal of 2 percent, many nations fall well below this target. For instance, Finland’s neighbor Norway had a spending level of just 1.55 percent. Its neighbor Sweden, with which it filed a joint NATO bid only to part ways later on, has pledged to reach the bloc’s target of military spending “as soon as possible,” whereas Denmark seeks to reach NATO’s target within a decade, by 2033.Meanwhile, global military expenditure rose to a record high last year amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which spurred European nations and, broadly, the West, into reaching spending levels unseen since the Cold War. European military spending alone shot up 13 percent last year.
According to an estimate by researchers from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), last year's total global military spending rose by 3.7 percent in real terms to $2.24 trillion. SIPRI stressed that the hike rests on multi-year plans to boost spending from several governments, which is why it is reasonable to expect military expenditure in Central and Western Europe to keep rising in the years to come.