Global Conflict: Dangerous Decade Beckons

Henry

The Israel-Hamas war, as well as the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and increasing tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and Africa, is a sign that it will “probably be a more dangerous decade,” a British military think tank warned on Tuesday.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) confirmed in its annual report on military balance that the world has entered a “highly volatile security environment – and that it will continue”.

“The current military security situation is likely to usher in a more dangerous decade that will be characterized by the brutal use of military force to manage expectations,” says the report.

It also noted “the desire among like-minded democracies for stronger bilateral and multilateral defense ties in response”.

The “era of uncertainty” is reshaping the defense industry landscape globally, with the US and Europe ramping up production of missiles and munitions “after decades of underinvestment”, the report added.

As the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, the London-based IISS reports that Moscow has lost about 3,000 battle tanks during the conflict, roughly the same number as it had at the start of its invasion.

The IISS says Russia has been forced to trade “quality for quantity” in its bid to replace battle tanks it has lost since it invaded its western neighbor in February 2022.

“Ukraine has so far been able to cope with equipment losses through Western donations, improving quality in the process,” the think tank added.

NATO ‘strengthens’

Global military spending grew by 9% in 2022, to a record $2.2 trillion. This is believed to have been driven in part by NATO member states’ response to Russia’s invasion.

The report comes days after Donald Trump, who has his eye on the White House, said he had previously told the leader of an unspecified NATO member that he would “encourage Russia to do whatever they want in that country” if it failed to meet its financial obligations to NATO.

According to IISS figures, only 10 members of the Western-led security alliance met the group’s target of spending 2% of their GDP on defence, although 19 of them increased spending last year.

“Russia’s actions have revived NATO, with Finland rapidly completing its alliance accession process in April 2023,” the report said.

“Russia’s border with NATO members is now more than 1,300 km longer.”

Furthermore, the annual report indicated that Iran’s supply of missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen and drones to Russia highlight Tehran’s growing influence in conflict areas.

China has also “demonstrated increased capacity to sustainably deploy forces beyond its territory”, he added.

“The IISS report was published at an important time when the rules-based order is increasingly being questioned,” said Bastian Giegerich, its chief executive.

“As Western defense spending rises and plans to upgrade equipment are underway, we reflect on the challenges posed by, among others, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, China’s military modernization and events in the Middle East,” he added.