Global military expenditures hit an all-time high at $2.44 trillion in 2023, up 6.8 percent from the previous year, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, crises in the Middle East and China's military buildup, an international security think tank said Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said total spending rose for the ninth consecutive year, logging the largest amount since comparable data became available in 1988.

The top five spending countries were the United States, China, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, accounting for 61 percent of the global total, while notable increases were observed in Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the Middle East.

File photo taken in April 2023 shows a steel worker moving an artillery projectile during the manufacturing process at Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (AP/Kyodo)

"The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security," said Nan Tian, senior researcher with SIPRI's Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program.

The United States spent $916 billion, 2.3 percent more than in 2022, while China's military spending was projected at $296 billion, up 6 percent, marking the 29th straight year of increase, according to the report.

Japan's defense expenditure rose 11 percent, the largest increase since 1972, to $50.2 billion, ranking it 10th in the world, while South Korea spent $47.9 billion, placing it 11th.

"China is directing much of its growing military budget to boost the combat readiness of the People's Liberation Army," said Xiao Liang, another SIPRI researcher. "This has prompted the governments of Japan, Taiwan and others to significantly build up their military capabilities, a trend that will accelerate further in the coming years."

Ukraine's military spending jumped 51 percent to $64.8 billion, climbing to eighth from 11th in the world rankings, the report said. The expenditure of Israel, which is engaged in conflict with Palestinians and others, went up 24 percent to $27.5 billion.

On Oct. 7, 2023, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched surprise attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing and capturing many Israelis and foreign nationals. Israel declared war on Hamas, launching aerial bombardment and ground operations that have killed tens of thousands in Gaza.

Third-ranked Russia, which has been waging war in Ukraine since February 2022, saw its military expenditure grow 24 percent to an estimated $109 billion.

The figure accounted for 5.9 percent of Russia's gross domestic product, the highest level for the nation on the GDP scale since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

By region, the Americas accounted for 41 percent of global military expenditure, followed by Asia and Oceania at 24 percent. Europe came in third.

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