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India biggest arms importer, Russia top supplier: SIPRI

Delhi was also the largest single recipient of French arms, accounting for nearly 30% of exports from Paris, the report said

India biggest arms importer, Russia top supplier: SIPRI
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

India continues to be the world’s top weapons importer, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

Arms imports by India rose by 4.7% between 2014-18 and 2019-23, the report said.

Though Russia remained India’s main arms supplier, accounting for 36% of imports, 2019-23 was the first five-year period since 1960–64 when deliveries from Russia (or the erstwhile Soviet Union) made up less than half of India’s arms imports, SIPRI said.

To be sure, Russian arms exports fell by 53% between 2014–18 and 2019–23. States in Asia and Oceania received 68% of total Russian arms exports in the latest five-year period, with India accounting for 34% and China for 21%.

The reported also pointed out that India was the largest single recipient of French arms, accounting for nearly 30%.

The increase in French arms exports was largely due to deliveries of combat aircraft to India, Qatar and Egypt, the report said.

“France is using the opportunity of strong global demand to boost its arms industry through exports,” said Katarina Djokic, researcher at SIPRI. “France has been particularly successful in selling its combat aircraft outside Europe.”

The report said Pakistan raised its arms imports by 43% to become the fifth largest arms importer in 2019–23, with China becoming “even more dominant as its main supplier, providing 82% of its arms imports.”

Weapons imports by two of China’s East Asian neighbors rose, Japan’s by 155% and South Korea’s by 6.5%, while Beijing’s own arms imports shrank by 44% as it substituted imported arms—most of which came from Russia—with locally produced systems.

“There is little doubt that the sustained high levels of arms imports by Japan and other US allies and partners in Asia and Oceania are largely driven by one key factor: concern over China’s ambitions,” said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program. “The US, which shares their perception of a Chinese threat, is a growing supplier to the region.”

The US’s arms exports jumped 17% between 2014–18 and 2019–23, and its share of total global arms exports rose from 34% to 42%.

“More than half of arms imports by European states come from the US,” said SIPRI director Dan Smith, “while at the same time, Europe is responsible for about a third of global arms exports, including large volumes going outside the region, reflecting Europe’s strong military–industrial capacity.”

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