Peace Dividend from end of Cold War is over as European defense spending up by 8.3% after 20 years of declines

Fear of Russian aggression will help drive European defense spending up by 8.3 percent this year, putting a halt to 20 years of declining budgets, a new report by European think tanks claimed.

Over two decades after the end of the Cold War, Vladimir Putin’s expansionist policies in Crimea and Ukraine have pushed European leaders to once again increase their spending on military programs, according to the report, which was funded by the European Defense Agency.

“The decline that has affected European defence budgets for over twenty years, and more acutely after 2008, has halted,” the new report stated, adding that the rise is most pronounced in central and Eastern Europe, an area covering the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.

Those seven countries will hike spending by 19.9 percent this year, the report said, with Hungary pushing up spending by 22 percent to nearly €1 billion.

In southeastern Europe, an area covering Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, the rise will be 9.2 percent, while Western Europe will see a rise of 2.7 percent.

Peace dividend is a political slogan popularized by US President George H.W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1990s, purporting to describe the economic benefit of a decrease in defense spending. The term was frequently used at the end of the Cold War.