US Pressure Fails to Affect Russia’s Growing Arms Exports

US Pressure Fails to Affect Russia’s Growing Arms Exports

On November 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Commission for Military Technology Cooperation with Foreign States. He noted that “Our capabilities in the military technical sphere must be used to modernize and upgrade all our industries, to support our science and to create a powerful technological potential for the country’s dynamic development.” The president called for “renewed efforts, not only, in preserving, but also, in strengthening Russia’s leading position on the global arms market, primarily in the high-tech sector, amid tough competition.”

The US efforts to press other countries into suspending military cooperation with Russia are inefficient. The number of customers, especially in the Middle East and Africa, is growing. The demand for Russia’s military production is especially high in the Asia-Pacific Region, accounting for almost 70% of all arms sales, including India (35%), China (12%) and Vietnam (10%).Today, Russia’s overall military exports are equal to around $15 billion, with the global order book of $55 billion. According to Alexander Mikheev, the head of Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary agency for Russia's defense exports / imports, Russia has already exported arms to over 40 countries, signing 1,100 contracts worth about $19 billion in 2018 – a 25% increase compared to the last year.

The president’s speech coincided with the opening ceremony of Airshow China 2018 (Nov. 6-11), one of the five largest aerospace exhibitions in the world, Russian manufacturers scored a big success. 14 defense producers displayed over 200 units of hardware.

China has defied US threats to go through with the large deal to buy S-400 air defense systems and Su-35 multifunctional fighters (ten jets already delivered). The joint programs, such as the development of a heavy AHL helicopter and a long-range powerful aircraft, are in force. The order book of China’s imports exceeds $7 billion, growing from 5% to 14-15%. The two nations are involved in a joint project to produce diesel-electric submarines Amur-1650 (export version of Lada Project 677). This is a $2 billion deal. China confirmed the plan to purchase six Mi-171A2Y “Ansat” helicopters, which will make a 5,000 km long demonstration tour across Southeast Asia, including stops at Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

VKO concern "Almaz-Antey" used the Airshow China 2018 event to introduce the Viking – the export version of the Buk-M3 anti-aircraft missile system. Viking boasts the range of 65 km. 36 targets can be tracked and engaged simultaneously. It has the capability of striking tactical ballistic and cruise missiles as well as sea and ground targets. The Radioelectronic Technologies Company (KRET) presented over 40 exhibits, including the multipurpose airborne multipurpose radar with AFAR "Beetle-AME" designed to  detect and track aerial, surface and ground targets at the same time. The Russian-Chinese long-overhaul CR929 jet attracted public attention at the air show. Its basic version will carry 280 passengers over a distance of 12,000 km.

India has also defied the US pressure and will start receiving receive S-400s in the fall of 2020. The $5 billion deal was signed in October during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi. Russia and Vietnam have signed a $4.5 billion package of deals, including the $1 billion purchase of a batch of Russian Su-30 MK2 fighters and a $2 billion agreement on the sale of six Russian diesel-electric Project 636.1 Varshavyanka (Kilo) submarines. A Mi-35M attack helicopters deal with to Bangladesh is expected to be inked soon. In February, Russia signed a $ 1.14 deal with Indonesia to supply 11 Su-35 4++ generation fighters.

2018 is rich in international defense shows. As of November 12, Russia has taken part in about 20 international exhibitions and forums, such as the Eurasian Air Show in Turkey’s Antalya, International Far Eastern Maritime Show in Vladivostok and ADAS-2018 defense exhibition in the Philippines (for the first time). It intends to attend some more large ones till the end of the year.

Russia has also taken part in the Indo Defense 2018 show (Nov.7-10) to display over 200 systems and equipment units. There were two weapons presented for the first time ever in Jakarta: the 122 mm projectile for Tornado-G MLRS and 140 mm projectile for ship-based Ogon flame throwing launcher.

There will be the IDEAS-2018  exhibition in Pakistan in late November, EDEX-2018 will be held in Egypt in mid-December, and Chile will host the EXPONAVAL – 2018 naval exhibition in early December. Russia will take an active part in all of them though its presence at Le Bourget Paris air show in June was very limited and it decided to take no part in Farnborough – 2018 air show in July. Moscow prefers the shows where it has more potential customers. This year, some new systems were offered to potential buyers, such the Viking and Tor-E2 anti-aircraft missile systems, Sprut-SDM1 light floating tank, Karakut and Sarsar vesselsIl-78MK-90A aerial tanker and Il-76MD-90A (E) military cargo aircraft. The Sprut-SDM1 light tank is a special case. The airborne light amphibious tank with firepower of MBT has no rivals in the world.

The US-imposed sanctions have failed to reduce the demand for Russian weapons. China, India as well as many other countries refuse to bow. New ways to pay for the deals without dollars are sought. For instance, India will pay for S-400s in Russian rubles. The talks to get around dollars are underway with China. Some deals may be temporarily postponed, some talks frozen, but all in all, the US policy of using sanctions to reduce Russia arms exports and thus weaken the competitor has failed. The most important agreements, including the S400 deal with Turkey, a NATO country, have not been affected. This agreement will also skirt dollar payments. The Russian arms sales are on the rise. 

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