Saudi Arabia has broken into the world's top three defense spenders, surpassing Russia, according to a new report from a research group.
The kingdom's defense expenditures totaled $87.5 billion in 2015, up 5.7 percent from the previous year, driven in part by its military operations in Yemen, according to a report released this week from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The Saudis lead a coalition of nine Arab states in conducting airstrikes and ground operations to back Yemen's government against Houthis rebels and loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose forces control the capital and other areas in the country, according to the Associated Press. (The U.S. Navy last week intercepted weapons from Shiite-led Iran bound for Houthis in Yemen.)
Indeed, the Saudi military intervention in Yemen alone is estimated to account for $5.3 billion increase in defense expenditures, according to the research institute.
Despite expanding military spending 7.5 percent to $66.4 billion in the same period, Russia fell into the fourth spot, behind the U.S., China and Saudi Arabia, the document states.
Meanwhile, the U.S. still dominates the rankings, with $596 billion in defense expenditures in 2015, a decrease of 2.4 percent from the previous year; China, meanwhile, spent $215 billion on its military last year, an increase of 7.4 percent from the year-ago period, according to the report.
Overall, worldwide defense spending climbed 1 percent to almost $1.7 trillion in 2015, aided in part by falling oil prices and discoveries of new energy reserves, according to the research group, which is based in Stockholm and researches such topics as conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
Here are the top 15 global defense spenders: