Western sanctions ‘didn’t hurt Russian arms trade’
“The sanctions didn’t affect our arms markets. They are traditional, and we still have them. The purchases of our arms will not go down,” Igor Sevastyanov, deputy head of Rosoboronexport told journalists on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Sevastyanov’s boss Anatoly Isaikin said that Rosoboronexport expects arms sales to foreign buyers to remain steady until 2016. Russia sold $13 billion worth of weapons in 2013, with about 37 percent of that in aircraft, 26 percent going to air defense systems, 21 percent to tanks and other army weapons, and 12 percent to naval sales.
The sanctions could affect Russian military cooperation with Europe, but that would have marginal effect, according to Sevastyanov.
“I wouldn’t speak of any drop in purchases of military hardware, because there was not much hardware importing to start with,” he said.
He praised France, which is adhering to the standing contracts with Russia on supplying Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, despite pressure from other countries and said he was surprised with Germany’s move to pull out of a joint project for building a high-tech shooting range in Russia’s Mulino.
While Russia did sign some contracts for European arms and weapon technology, in other instances Moscow chose not to after evaluating what the Europeans have to offer. This happened to Italian armored cars and tanks, both of which Russia rejected long before the sanctions came on the agenda. And a similar decision was taken over a proposed purchase of FELIN advanced soldier gear from France.
“After negotiations, approval requests, evaluations of the capabilities, prices and technical characteristics Russian producers proved with documents at hand that in comparative tests out equipment in some regards surpass the French,” Sevastyanov said, noting that “the French have some elements that we are yet to learn how to make.”
Rosoboronexport is busy this week promoting its goods at a large arms expo in Moscow. A total of 212 domestic producers are taking part in Oboronexpo, a four-day event kicking-off on Wednesday. There are also eight foreign arms producers from Belarus, Germany, India, China, the US and France participating.