SIPRI: Kremlin is second again in arms trade

Arms export has become a powerful tool for geopolitical influence

Russia has retained 2nd place in the global arms manufacturers market. Russia occupies a share of 8.6% ($ 36.2 billion), ahead of the UK and France. The United States is still in first place – 59% of the market ($ 246 billion), which is 7.2% more than in 2017. Such data are given in the Top 100 ranking of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), published on December 9.

According to the rating, global arms sales in 2018 increased by 4.7%. At the same time, the turnover of the 100 largest arms manufacturers amounted to $ 420 billion. Since 2002, when SIPRI began comparing the data, the top five were occupied exclusively by American companies.

These are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics. Sales of their weapons amounted to 35% ($ 148 billion) of the total. According to Od Fleran, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditures Program, large American companies are joining together to be able to produce new generation weapons systems.

SIPRI evaluates Russian arms sales as “stable”. In 2017, for the first time in 15 years, Russia pushed Britain out of second place in this ranking of arms manufacturers and is now holding the second place. However, over the year, the share of Russian companies in the total volume decreased by 1.1%.

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The largest arms producer in Russia, Almaz-Antey, became the only Russian company to enter the top 10 (in ninth place). It accounted for 27% of arms sales by Russian companies. In 2018, Almaz-Antey sales increased by 18% to $ 9.6 billion.

SIPRI also notes an increase in arms sales by French companies, and a slight decrease in the shares of Great Britain and Germany.

Thus, arms sales by companies based in the UK fell 4.8% (to $ 35.1 billion), but at the same time remained the highest in Europe.

The total arms sales by French companies included in the top 100 allowed the country to take second place in Europe – $ 23.2 billion. According to SIPRI, the overall growth in arms sales by six French companies is associated with a 30% increase in sales of combat aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation .

Some other rating figures are also curious. So, according to SIPRI, 80 of the 100 leading arms manufacturers of 2018 are based in the United States, Europe and Russia.

Of the remaining 6, they are located in Japan, 3 each in Israel, India and South Korea, 2 in Turkey and one each in Australia, Canada and Singapore.

Sales of six Japanese companies in 2018 amounted to about $ 9.9 billion (2.4% of total sales of the top 100). Three Israeli – $ 8.7 billion (2.1%).

What do the rating figures say? How important is the arms trade for Russia?

  • For the United States, military-technical cooperation, including the sale of weapons, is not just a very serious business, but also a geopolitical asset, – said Sergey Ermakov, an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI).
  • It is clear that by selling its weapons and providing military-technical assistance, Washington is tying partners to itself and spreading influence in the world.

Weapons deals involve close cooperative ties. This is the adjustment of weapons, their maintenance, training of military personnel. It is truly a geopolitical asset, and very significant.

– Since 2017, the United States has increased its share of the arms market by 7.2%. Does this mean that America’s geopolitical influence has grown as well?

– The US influence in the world is not proportional to the volume of arms sold. Now, on the contrary, arms export proceeds are growing, and American influence, at best, is held at the same level.

It is imperative that China is actively participating in this race. Weapons exporters from the United States and European countries consider China to be a growing commercial threat. China plays a much larger role compared to a decade ago, and offers customers good-quality weapons systems.

– What are the positions of Russia against this background?

In fact, this suggests that the Russian military-industrial complex takes very firm positions abroad.

Moreover, unlike the Americans, we never set ourselves plans for global leadership. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation successfully enters new markets with its weapons – and this is an undeniable plus.

– When compared with the USSR, how much less weapons do we now export abroad?

– This is an incorrect comparison. The USSR, unlike Russia, did not conduct the arms business. Arms deliveries in Soviet times were motivated by politics and ideology – making a profit was not the main thing. In this way, the USSR expanded its geopolitical influence.

The overload of the economic system in the late Union just shows that the Soviet leaders perceived the military-industrial complex and the national economy as completely different spheres.

But for the Americans, the arms trade has always been, above all, a business. And making investments in military production, the United States has always hoped to get a synergistic effect, which provided a breakthrough to the entire American economy.

In fact, the Americans and I have always existed in different political and geographical conditions. In particular, we proceeded from the fact that we have a serious adversary and a threat to our territory. The United States until recently, with the exception of the nuclear sphere, did not see a direct threat to itself.

– SIPRI notes that the global arms market is growing steadily. What is the reason for this?

– The arms market under Donald Trump is experiencing a boom, if not a giant boom. Let me remind you, ten years ago, analysts noted that the arms market is collapsing before our eyes.

In the USSR for 5 years it was believed that he was killed by drunk police officers.

Now, as we see, this market is reorienting. Most of it is occupied by trade in high-tech products, and not by small-class “classics”.

I also note that although the Americans declare democratic values ​​on the arms market – they advocate export control and transparency – talk of democracy ends, lucrative contracts are looming.

Here, Americans approach transactions very flexibly, which allows them to increase their supply volumes.

– How important is it for Russia to remain among the leaders in the arms market?

– Extremely important. Today, the arms market is primarily a market for advanced technologies. This is an innovative sphere where products are presented, as is commonly said by economists, of high redistribution.

This area is a driver not only in the military sector of the economy, but also in purely civilian sectors. If we lose our position in the arms market, this will negatively affect the Russian economy as a whole.

Plus, we will weaken our geopolitical influence. An example of Turkey’s supply of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems against the will of the United States is about this.