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Russia’s Position as Second-Largest Arms Exporter Threatened by Ukraine War

Russia, known as the world’s second-largest arms exporter, is facing a significant decline in its global weapons trade due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

This situation not only affects Russia’s lucrative revenue stream but also undermines its international influence.

Over the years, Russia has showcased its military might during Victory Day celebrations, commemorating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

This event served as an opportunity for Moscow to exhibit its latest weaponry to potential foreign buyers.

However, Russia’s share of the global weapons trade has been steadily decreasing since 2017, dropping from 22% to 16%.

The reputation of Russia’s arms industry suffered a blow as images of destroyed Russian weapons emerged from Ukraine.

This decline in market share can be attributed to several factors.

The problems began in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, leading to sanctions that limited the flow of Western components crucial for some Russian weapons.

Furthermore, last year’s invasion of Ukraine resulted in additional economic sanctions and complications for the Kremlin.

Buying Russian arms and components has become increasingly challenging for countries, and even payment for these transactions has become more difficult.

For instance, if payment is made in dollars, the US can impose sanctions on the involved parties, discouraging potential buyers.

The cancellation of an order of Russian helicopters by the Philippines due to this issue serves as a prominent example.

As Russia’s position weakens, competitors like France are seizing opportunities.

Serbia, an ally of Moscow, is currently in talks to purchase French Rafale fighter jets.

Additionally, Russia’s own need for weapons in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict has depleted its operational fleet, with an estimated loss of over 2,000 tanks, more than half of its fleet.

This raises concerns about the availability of weapons for export.

India, Russia’s biggest arms buyer, announced in March that a major delivery from Moscow would not proceed due to the Ukraine War.

Even China, the next largest customer, is becoming less reliant on Russian-made weapons.

This shift is significant because both India and China have begun manufacturing more of their own weaponry.

Analysts predict that this trend could further weaken the demand for Russian equipment, suggesting that the issue lies not with the quality of the equipment itself but rather with the tactics and personnel using it.

Russia has not provided an immediate response to inquiries regarding the decline in its global arms exports.

The difficulties it faces are expected to further reduce its share in the global weapons trade.

According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia’s arms exports dropped by 31% in the five-year period ending in 2022 compared to the previous period ending in 2017.

This decline highlights the fading prospects of Russia as a major arms exporter.

The problems faced by Russia’s arms industry encompass various fronts, making the future uncertain for those involved.

The decline in global arms exports and the growing self-sufficiency of key customers like India and China present significant challenges for Russia.

The combination of these factors raises concerns for the long-term viability of the Russian arms industry.

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