portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war

Russia Sees War as a Free Ad for Arms

"As a result of the Iraq war and the accusations of illegal Russian arms deliveries to Baghdad, applications for Russian weapons systems have soared ... over the past month," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as saying. "Thank you for the free advertisement."
Russia Sees War as a Free Ad for Arms
By Lyuba Pronina, The Moscow Times, April 15, 2003

War tends to fuel demand for guns, fighter jets and air defense systems from wary countries, and Russia is hoping the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq will lead to big bucks for its rebounding defense industry.

While recent U.S. complaints that Russia supplied Iraq with defense equipment in violation of UN sanctions cast a chill on U.S.-Russian ties, the accusations could very well end up working to Russia's advantage, senior government officials and defense analysts said.

"There is no doubt that the war in Iraq has fueled the arms race not only in North Korea but in all of the world," Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, last week.

"As a result of the Iraq war and the accusations of illegal Russian arms deliveries to Baghdad, applications for Russian weapons systems have soared ... over the past month," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as saying. "Thank you for the free advertisement."

Ivanov did not specify which countries have approached Russia, but defense analysts said top candidates are Middle Eastern nations caught in the thick of the Iraqi crisis such as Syria, Iran and, perhaps, the United Arab Emirates. Sales to Syria and Iran, however, might anger Washington, which has included them on a list of countries it accuses of harboring terrorists.

Other countries that might be interested in acquiring arms include Libya, North Korea and even Indonesia. Jakarta, a one-time buyer of U.S. defense equipment, has been barred from purchasing American weapons due to its bloody crackdown in East Timor. Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri visits Moscow on April 21 and is expected to be shopping for long-range S-300 air defense systems, several Su-27 jets and a few helicopters.

Russia has to move quickly before the United States leaves it with no Middle East customers, said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, or CAST. "Rosoboronexport has to be extremely aggressive in marketing Russian arms and do it very quickly," he said, referring to the state arms export agency. "If we continue to drag our feet, Syria might be put under a colonial administration, and the same thing might happen to Iran in a year."

At the same time, Moscow's hopes might never pan out, he cautioned, pointing to what happened after the 1999 Kosovo conflict. Russian predictions that the war would bring a number of new clients fell flat.

Sales, however, have grown briskly over the past three years -- mainly because Russia's top two clients, China and India, which account for up to 70 percent of all deals, have been buying more. Arms deliveries reached a post-Soviet high of $4.8 billion on revenues of $4.5 billion in 2002.

Russia desperately needs to tap new markets to keep the momentum going -- and this has led to the talk about how the Iraq war might boost sales.

"[The war] will cause a surge in demand for air defense systems and radio-electronic warfare," Alexander Nozdrachev, general director of the Russian Conventional Arms Agency, told reporters in Yekaterinburg this month.

He said anti-tank systems and night-vision equipment might prove popular as well.

The U.S. claims that Russia supplied Iraq -- either directly or through third parties -- with night-vision goggles, satellite jamming devices and anti-tank guided missiles. Russia denies this.

Iraq, however, was a big client in Soviet times, snapping up $30.5 billion in arms between 1958 and 1990, when UN sanctions were imposed, according to Marat Kenzhetayev, an analyst with the Center for Arms Control. The defense equipment included 4,630 tanks, 1,145 aircraft, 348 helicopters, 325 air defense systems and 41 battleships, he said.

Few of the weapons remained when U.S. forces attacked Iraq, and those that were found were out of date and in bad repair. Iraq's air defense systems had been crippled after years of U.S. strikes following the 1991 Gulf War. "What the U.S. did in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and is now doing in Iraq shows it is mainly relying on its air superiority ... and Iraq does not have the air defense systems to counter it," Kenzhetayev said.

Yury Bondarev, deputy commander of the Russian air force, agreed.

"The lion's share of duties during this war were carried out by aviation," Bondarev, who oversees the CIS's Unified Air Defense System, told reporters late last week. "It's hard to underestimate the role of air defense here. If Iraq had had real air defenses, then the U.S. Air Force would have had serious difficulties."

He added: "I am confident there will be more demand for the systems [after the war]."

Air defense systems such as the S-300, shorter range Tor-M1 and upgrades of the S-125 Pechora are of great interest to Iran and Syria, analysts said. Iran was a big importer of Russian defense equipment from 1991 to 2001, buying $3.6 billion worth of Sukhoi and MiG jets, S-200 air defense systems and T-72 tanks.

Sales have since sagged, even though Russia in 2000 walked out of the 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement with the United States that capped deliveries to Iran. Russia has sold 30 Mi-17 helicopters for $150 million and 300 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles for $60 million, Makiyenko of CAST said.

With the Iraq war and a recently adopted 25-year rearmament program, Iran is expected to go on a shopping spree for weapons systems, including S-300s. Makiyenko said Iran and Syria might jump for new systems if they felt any U.S. threat. He pointed out, however, that the only order that came after the Kosovo war was from China, for S-300PMU1 systems.

Kenzhetayev said U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have been saturated with American weapons after the Gulf War and are unlikely to start looking for new arms any time soon.

"Yet one would logically expect that traditional recipients of Russian arms -- Iran, Libya and Syria -- would consider buying from Russia," he said. "If they thought they might be the next target after Iraq, they might start buying."

Air defense systems accounted for only 4 percent of arms exports last year.

Makiyenko said countries like Syria might opt for upgraded S-125 Pechora systems to avoid antagonizing the U.S.

The war in Iraq could have a knock-on effect on sales of shoulder-fired Igla anti-aircraft missiles and Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile systems, built by the Kolomna Engineering Design Bureau and KBP of Tula, respectively, said Said Aminov, editor of the Vestnik PVO air defense magazine.

Demand for upgraded tanks such as the T-72M1M and small arms might grow as well, said retired Colonel Sergei Suvorov, editor of Arms magazine.

While air defense systems have played no role in Iraq's battle against coalition troops, Russian-built small arms have been somewhat of a show-stealer, downing aircraft and knocking out tanks. "This could be a golden moment for Kornet-E anti-tank guided missiles," Makiyenko said.

Kornets, produced by KBP, are the anti-tank missiles that the United States has accused Russia of illegally delivering to Iraq, possibly through Syria. KBP delivered 1,000 Kornet missiles to Syria in 1998 and 1999, Kenzhetayev said.

KBP exports independently of Rosoboronexport and last year delivered $350 million worth of systems --double its sales plan.

KBP denies the U.S. accusations. "If these highly effective arms were indeed in Iraq in sufficient numbers, the U.S. forces would have had suffered more serious losses," chief KBP engineer Andrei Morozov said by telephone.

Rosoboronexport, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Russian arms exports, refused to comment.

With potential clients such as Iran and Syria, a big question is whether Russia can boost weapons sales without ruffling feathers in Washington.

One defense official scoffed at the possibility of any U.S. pressure.

"A task has been set to sell arms and bring hard currency into the country," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We have the best air defense systems and the best small arms, while our upgraded tanks are on par with the Abrams. And with all that we can't sell our weapons?

"The militaries of many countries are watching the war, and they will decide what they need to buy," he said.

homepage: homepage: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/04/15/003.html

More Propergander... 14.Apr.2003 22:25

Trilox Woodsman

I'm wondering who the goon is that keeps posting all this Russian nonsense? Perhaps some Russian who lives here now? If you are so in love with the Russian military and their weapons feel free to go back anytime.

As you could see Russian weapons didn't help too much in Iraq so I can't see why anyone would want to buy that junk. Their latest tanks and armored personel carriers are obsolete and outgunned with very thin armor at the top of the turret which is where the Hellfire missle impacts. The SU-37 is a really rugged fighter and one of the only planes that can perform the cobra maneuver but their choppers are mostly garbage as well...

It's news 15.Apr.2003 00:39


War keeps both Russia and the U.S. in business. Who are the biggest arms makers in the world? Money makes the world go around. War keeps the funds rolling in.

the war was really bad for russian arms co.s 15.Apr.2003 11:11


this war, like Gulf War I was terrible for the russians. it showed the world just how to blow billions of dollars of your country's treasure for junk. Why do you think they opposed it so much?

Iraqis could have saved 70 billion dollars over the last 30 years by just buying some spay paint an painting big Bullseye targets on everything.

We lost 140 troops in Gulf War I and so far about 100 in GW II.
thats over $291 million dollars per enemy personnel that the iraqis killed. (half of which we shot ourselves in freindly fire inccidents, but whose counting?)

Oh yeah, its a great do for Russian arms deals...


please, trilox 15.Apr.2003 14:38


share some more insight you've gained jerking off to Jane's Weekly.