- Balkan countries are beefing up their militaries
- NATO and Russia are ramping up their presence in the region
- Tensions over Kosovo and Macedonia are escalating
- A drawdown seems unlikely anytime soon
Around the world, countries are spending more on their militaries, a trend that is already evident in the Western Balkans. In 2018, global military expenditure rose to $1.7 trillion, its highest level since the end of the Cold War. At a NATO summit in July, United States President Donald Trump insisted that the alliance should double its military spending target, from 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 4 percent. The European Union will spend more than 5 billion euros annually on funding defense research and arms acquisition through its new European Defense Fund.
These developments raise concerns about a military buildup in the region, either through hybrid warfare or new military deployments and bases.