Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia are among the top ten most militarised nations in the world, according to the Global Militarization Index 2015, placing higher in the ranking than superpowers such as China and the United States.
Funded by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the report monitors a number of component factors to list countries based on the weight they place on the military in relation to society as a whole. The overall GMI score is made up of three main component categories: expenditure, personnel and weapons. Expenditure is compared to each country’s GDP and health spending, personnel looks at army sizes against total population, and the weapons category looks at volumes of weaponry compared to population.
The ongoing Nagorno–Karabakh conflict has ensured that both Armenia and Azerbaijan remain in the top ten of the GMI for the fifth year running. Despite their relatively small GDPs, their military budgets in relation overall national incomes led to their high rankings.
A number of Central and Eastern European (CEE) nations including Romania and Bulgaria have pledged to boost their military budgets in line with Nato’s recommended 2% of GDP. The Czech Republic pledged in April to boost military spending from 1.0% to 1.4% by 2020.
Lithuania this year announced the reintroduction of military conscription, a move that follows a trend in the region of beefing up defences in light of the growing tension with Russia over the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
Russia has undergone a major programme of boosting its armed forces in the last few years, with military spending as a share of GDP growing from 3.7% to 4.5% between 2010 and 2014.