Russia dropped in the list of world arms exports

Russia is behind France and the US in SIPRI’s ranking of the world’s largest arms exporters, marking the first time it has lost second place in this sector.

A report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March 11 showed that Russia’s arms exports in the period 2019-2023 decreased by 53% compared to the period 2014-2018.

Russia’s global arms export market share also decreased from 21% to 11%, while France’s increased from 7.2% to 11%. SIPRI’s figures have been rounded and do not specify how much of France’s market share is greater than Russia’s, but the organization ranks France in second place, pushing Russia to third place on the list of leading suppliers. The world’s largest arms exporter.

This is the first time Russia has lost second place on SIPRI’s rankings since the data was first published in 1950.

“The decline has been rapid over the past five years,” SIPRI said, adding that the number of important customers of the Russian arms industry fell from 31 to 12 countries during this period.

Meanwhile, the US still maintains its leading position in the list of the world’s largest arms exporters. The country’s arms exports in the period 2019-2023 increased by 17% compared to the previous 5 years and accounted for 42% of the global market share.

Russia has not commented on the SIPRI report.

Vladimir Artyakov, deputy director of Russian arms corporation Rostec, said last November that weapons produced by Moscow are receiving more attention thanks to their effectiveness in the conflict in Ukraine.

He also said that SIPRI is an “unfriendly” organization towards Russia, so it cannot give objective information when asked to comment on the organization’s 2023 report, which shows the proportion of arms exports in Moscow’s global gas share has decreased from 22% in 2013-2017 to 16% in 2018-2022.

Artyakov also commented that it is difficult to accurately calculate market share at the present time in the context that the West is providing Ukraine with a large amount of weapons, affecting actual export figures.

Meanwhile, Pieter D. Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI’s Arms Transfer Program, said that Russia’s arms industry is facing a bleak future. He commented that this is not a short-term decline and it is likely that Moscow’s arms exports will not be able to recover to previous levels.

“Russia is facing a huge challenge to continue to be the world’s leading arms supplier. Based on the data we have, Russia is also lagging behind in the amount of weapons currently on order,” Wezeman said. “The situation can, of course, change quickly if large new orders appear, but we haven’t seen them yet.”

According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in the US, Russia’s arms export industry began to decline in position in the early 2010s due to competition from India and Russia. China, as well as by sanctions imposed by the West to prevent other countries from buying Russian military equipment.

Russia dropped in the list of world arms exports

Russian tanks were destroyed in Sumy province, Ukraine, in March 2022. Photo: Reuters

After the Ukraine conflict broke out, the US and its allies imposed additional sanctions on Russia, making it difficult for the country to access some high-tech components to manufacture weapons and receive money from Russia.

Russia’s defense industry must also focus resources on serving wartime needs instead of selling weapons abroad, while the image of Moscow’s weapons being destroyed and damaged on the battlefield makes some of Russia’s longtime customers question the quality of weapons produced by this country.

SIPRI’s report shows that India, China and Egypt are the largest customers of the Russian defense industry, accounting for 34%, 21% and 7.5%, respectively, in the period 2019-2023. However, arms exports from Russia to these countries have decreased by 34%, 39% and 54%, respectively, compared to the previous 5 years.