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Saudi Arabia Replaces Russia As World's Third Biggest Military Spender

Russian servicemen equip an Iskander tactical missile system at the Army-2015 international military-technical forum in Kubinka in June.

Saudi Arabia replaced Russia last year as the country with the third-highest military spending in the world, a Swedish research institute has said.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated on April 5 that global military spending rose by 1 percent in 2015 to $1.67 trillion, the first worldwide increase since 2011.

As in past years, the United States and China topped the list of big military spenders, with $596 billion and $215 billion military budgets, respectively. The United States alone accounted for more than a third of global spending.

But Saudi Arabia, which has been backing the Yemeni government in a war with rebels while providing support to rebels in Syria, surged into third place for the first time with its $87.2 billion budget.

Russia's spending also increased substantially by 7.5 percent to $66 billion, fueled by an air-strike campaign backing the Syrian government and a military buildup on its western border with Europe.

Over the last 10 years, Saudi Arabia's military budget nearly doubled by 97 percent, while Russia's budget was up by 91 percent.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AFP