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Who needs Russian weapons?
17/12/2015 - 16h37

Marcelo Rech

An analysis of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation of Russia shows that, in the past 11 years, the exports of Russian weapons increased from US$ 5 billions to US$ 15.3 billions. The growth occurs together with the incidence and aggravation of conflicts in several parts of the world, particularly in the North of Africa and in the Middle East. The concrete threats represented by the terrorist actions of the Islamic State have been producing a greater cooperation between Russia and its partners.

Countries used to the Western standards still resent as for a bigger approximation with Russia, but this scenery is being changed because of the development of cruise missiles and bombs guided by laser and satellite that allow to destroy targets of the Islamic State with greater accuracy. It also weighs in favor of Russia the mistakes made in the conflicts in former Yugoslavia, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, in which the loss of civilians’ lives was significant.

At present, Russia maintains agreements of military-technical cooperation with more than 90 countries, and contracts with at least 60. The country is thriving in the market not only for the quality of its products, but also for its disposition in transferring technology of Defense, something extremely difficult and complex.

However, Russia has been cautious regarding the weapons marketing. A. Isaykin, CEO of the company Rosoboronexport, recently affirmed that “in the supply of weapons, even when the contracts are solid and profitable in the economic point of view, if we understand that the power in an specific country is unstable and can be changed, if we acknowledge that this weapon may go out of control and pass to the wrong hands, like terrorist organizations, we refuse to sell them”.

The declaration coincides with denunciations of which the Islamic State would be acquiring, in the Ukraine, portable systems FN6 of air defense, of Chinese manufacture, which were transported through Turkey up to Syria. The respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed that the Ukraine occupies the 9th place in the ranking of weapon exporting countries.

In the past few years, this commerce increased significantly for Africa and Oriental Asia, both of which received great quantities of tanks T-72, T-80, T-64, multiple rocket launcher vehicles BM-21 Grad, self-propelled artillery systems 2S1 Gvozdika, and several systems of anti-tank missiles.

Also, the United States and Germany have been stimulating a lot these exports by acquiring shotguns and carbines. While Washington bought 143.6 thousand of these arms for the Ukraine, Berlin received 53.8 thousand unities. The objective fact is that the Ukraine earned a lot of money with this trade at the same time in which it was disarming its own soldiers. The conflict in the southeast of the country shows very well this reality.

Marcelo Rech is a journalist and analyst of the Institute InfoRel of International Relations and Defense. E-mail: inforel@inforel.org