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Central Europe Raises Military Spending Amid Russia Fears

Polish soldiers attend the inauguration ceremony of bilateral military training between U.S. and Polish troops in Zagan, Poland, in January.

Countries in Central Europe showed the largest relative increases in military spending in 2016, at least partially as a result of the perceived increased threat from Russia, a new study says.

"The growth in spending by many countries in Central Europe can be partly attributed to the perception of Russia posing a greater threat," the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report released on April 23.

The study said spending in Central Europe increased 2.6 percent, the largest amount relative to population.

Russia increased military expenditures by 5.9 percent last year to $69.2 billion, making it the third-largest spender after the United States and China.

Russia's military spending in 2016 was 27 percent of the combined total of European NATO members, SIPRI said.

The United States increased military spending by 1.7 percent to $611 billion, while China hiked outlays 5.4 percent to $215 billion.

Saudi Arabia's military spending declined sharply. In 2015, it was the third-largest spender, but it fell to fourth for 2016 after expenditures declined 30 percent to $63.7 billion as oil prices declined and the country underwent an austerity program.

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