The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an internationally acclaimed authority on the global arms trade and popularly known by its acronym as SIPRI, released its latest findings on Monday and revealed that Russia overtook the UK to become the world’s second-largest arms producer. According to their data, Russia sold approximately 9.5% of all global weaponry last year, which SIPRI said amounts to $37.7 billion and an 8.5%increase over 2016’s figures. Still, Russia trails far behind the US, which sold 57% of the world’s weapons last year worth around $226.6 billion, which was a 2% increase from the year prior.
In any case, Russia’s second-place rank is significant because it proves just how popular its arms have become all across the world since the commencement of its 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, which showcased the effectiveness of its wares and generated immense global interest in them. Furthermore, the recent spree of S-400 sales to China,Turkey, India, and possibly even soon to Saudi Arabia too speaks to the demand that many different countries have for Russia’s defensive assets as well.Overall, Russia is being regarded across the world as a reliable military supplier that has no ulterior geopolitical motives in this industry.
Unlike the US’ weapons sales which usually seek to disrupt the regional balance of power in favor of America’s main partner in the area, Russia’s arms exports don’t discriminate between countries and Moscow is oftentimes seen selling weapons to opposing pairs of countries such as Turkey & Syria, Armenia & Azerbaijan, Iran & Saudi Arabia, India & China, and China & Vietnam. This isn’t solely in pursuit of profit,however, but in advance of Russia’s “military diplomacy” which seeks to retain the balance of power in order to discourage the outbreak of hostilities and encourage a diplomatic solution to regional issues.
Correspondingly, it makes sense within this paradigm to sell weapons to rival states in order to ensure that neither of them gains an edge over the other as a result of American arms imports and is therefore enticed to aggressively pressure the other to advance the US’ designs in the region. By having its comparatively cheaper but highly effective arms compete with the US’ much more expensive and sometimes less effective ones, Russia is able to reduce the chances that America’s plans will succeed while simultaneously positioning itself as a neutral mediator for facilitating talks between rival parties, which is the essence of its “balancing” strategy.
The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Dec 14, 2018:
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