Global arms spending dropped last year for the first time in a decade.
In a fresh report issued April 15, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said global military spending dropped 0.5 percent to $1.75 trillion last year. SIPRI said it was the first drop in real terms since 1998.
The global total, however, remains above the Cold War peak.
Global military spending fell after the Cold War ended, reaching a low in the mid-1990s, but picked up sharply after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
In its report, SIPRI said military spending in the United States fell 6 percent in 2012, while still accounting for 40 percent of the global total.
NATO members in Europe cut back military spending by 10 percent.
Bucking the trend, however, were China and Russia, the world's second- and third-biggest military spenders, respectively, after the United States.
Beijing increased military spending by 7.8 percent in 2012 from the year before.
Russia's military spending rose 16 percent in 2012.
SIPRI's Sam Perlo-Freeman said the balance of world military spending was beginning to shift from the rich Western countries to emerging regions.
The other top 10 spenders were Britain, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, and Italy.
SIPRI predicts global spending will decline in the coming two to three years, mainly as a result of NATO countries withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
Spending in western and central Europe was down 1.6 percent compared to 2011. SIPRI said this was in line with a trend traced back to the 2008 financial crisis, and ensuing military budget cuts.
Eastern Europe was the region with the highest spending increase on 15.3 percent, with Ukraine increasing expenditure by 24 percent.
Russia was due to continue its increased spending between 2013 and 2015.
SIPRI carries out research on international security, armaments, and disarmament.
Based on dpa and Reuters reporting