GLOBAL military spending grew for the eighth consecutive year in 2022 to an all-time high of £1.79 trillion, a Swedish think tank has said.

There has been a sharp rise in European military spending, chiefly due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Spending globally increased by 3.7% in real terms, but military expenditure in Europe was up 13%.

This marked the steepest year-on-year increase in at least 30 years, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported.

Military aid to Ukraine and concerns about a heightened threat from Russia “strongly influenced many other states’ spending decisions”, SIPRI said.

Some of the sharpest increases were seen in countries near Russia. These included Finland (36%), Lithuania (27%), Sweden (12%) and Poland (11%).

The independent Swedish watchdog said that last year, the three largest arms spenders were the United States, China and Russia, who between them accounted for 56% of global expenditure.

Both Sweden and Finland jointly applied for Nato membership in May 2022, abandoning decades of non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Finland has been admitted, Sweden’s bid to join Nato remains stalled by opposition from Turkey and Hungary.

READ MORE: Ukraine deserves to join Nato, says chief Stoltenberg on trip to Kyiv

Lorenzo Scarazzato, a researcher with SIPRI’s military expenditure and arms production programme said: “While the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 certainly affected military spending decisions in 2022, concerns about Russian aggression have been building for much longer.

“Many former Eastern bloc states have more than doubled their military spending since 2014, the year when Russia annexed Crimea.”

Russia also has increased its military spending. SIPRI said that grew by an estimated 9.2% in 2022, to around £69.4 billion.

Established in 1966, SIPRI is an international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.