The head of Russia’s weapons export branch said arms export revenue total in 2022 is likely to total about $10.8 billion, which would be roughly 26% lower than reported for 2021.
The forecast follows the Army 2022 defense expo in Moscow, where Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to expand military cooperation with the country’s allies and expressed a readiness to sell them “the most advanced types of weapons: from firearms, armor and artillery to warplanes and drones.” He didn’t name any country in particular on Aug. 15, but said “Russia sincerely values its historically strong, friendly and trusting relations with countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa.”
Alexander Mikheyev, the director general of Rosoboronexport, said arms exports have accounted for $5.4 billion so far this year, and the country expects the remainder of the year to bring in the same amount of revenue.
Meanwhile, Dmitry Shugayev, the head of the government’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said during the expo that arms exports brought in $14.6 billion in revenue for 2021.
Russia is the second-largest arms exporter after the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. India, China, Egypt and Algeria are the top foreign customers of Russian weapons, but India’s imports are declining, according to a report published in March by the think tank.
“Russia’s arms exports fell by 26 percent between 2012-16 and 2017-21, and its share of global arms exports decreased from 24 percent to 19 percent,” the report read. “The overall drop in Russian arms exports between 2012-16 and 2017-21 was almost entirely due to decreases in arms exports to India (-47 percent) and Vietnam (-71 percent).”
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed weapons production while industry tried to implement safety measures as well as resolve logistics problems and production capacity issues. Additionally, Russia has been hit with economic sanctions over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its ongoing invasion of the country.
“Countries that were seeking to acquire Russian equipment were already thinking twice due to the risk of being sanctioned by the U.S. and others,” Tom Waldwyn, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Defense News.
“Although it is still too early to tell quite what the long-term impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be on its defense industry and exports, it seems likely that it will have a significant negative effect,” the think tank analyst said. “In the short term, deliveries of ammunition and spare parts will likely be directed to support the Russian war effort.”
Ultimately, the strength of Russia’s defense-industrial base could depend on action from European nations.
“If European countries are able to reduce their reliance on Russia for energy supplies, this will eventually have a significant impact on Russian government revenues and, in turn, the kind of investment in its defense industry that Russia can afford. Reductions in investment will affect capacity and quality, both in terms of technical capability and personnel,” Waldwyn said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.