SIPRI: Russia’s Arms Exports Dropped by 22% in 2016–2020



The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has published its latest report on Trends in International Arms Transfers. Looking at the 2016 to 2020 period, it names Russia as the second biggest arms exporter. However, according to SIPIR's report, Russian arms exports decreased by 22%t between 2011–15 and 2016–20.




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In 2016–2020, Russia delivered major arms to 45 states and accounted for 20% of total global arms exports, making it the second-largest arms exporter behind the United States. Russian arms exports in 2016–2020 were at a similar level to 2001–2005 and 2006–2010 but were 22% lower than in 2011–2015, when Russian arms exports peaked at 26% of the global share.

In 2016–20 total arms exports by the USA were 85% higher than those of Russia, compared with 24% higher in 2011–15. While Russian arms exports in 2016–18 remained at a relatively high level, they fell in both 2019 and 2020.

The overall decrease in Russia’s arms exports between 2011–15 and 2016–20 was almost entirely attributable to a 53% drop in its arms exports to India, says SIPRI. However, India continues to be the main recipient of Russian arms in 2016–2020. Although several large Russian arms deals with India, including for combat aircraft, were completed by 2020, India placed new orders for a variety of Russian arms in 2019–2020. The ensuing deliveries will probably lead to an increase in Russian arms exports in the coming five years. This is despite Russian deliveries dropping by 53% between 2011-2015 and 2016–2020, which goes along with a general fall of the Russian share of total Indian arms imports from 70% to 49%. This seems to be mainly due to its complex and lengthy procurement processes, combined with its attempts to reduce its dependence on Russian arms by diversifying its network of arms suppliers.

Global share of major arms exports by the 10 largest exporters, 2016–20
Source: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, Mar. 2021.

The large increases in Russia’s arms exports to China (49%), Algeria (49%) and Egypt (430%) made up for the decrease in exports to India. China and Algeria also make up Russia’s second and third greatest recipients of arms at 18% and 15% respectively. Russia is, therefore, the largest arms supplier to Algeria in 2016–2020 making up 69% of their arms imports. Russian arms deliveries included 16 combat aircraft, 42 combat helicopters, and 2 submarines.

77% of China's imports in the 2016-2020 period was Russian equipment. The bulk of these comprised air defence systems, combat aircraft, and engines for combat aircraft from Russia. However, imports from Russia are likely to reduce in volume once China’s own industry manages to consistently produce the types of major arms that it has generally imported from Russia over the years.

Russia was also the biggest supplier of Vietnam where it made up 66% of their imports, Kazakhstan at 89%, Belarus’ at 99% and Angola at 64%. It was the second-biggest supplier of Pakistan at 6.6%, Iraq at 34%, Bangladesh at 16% and Azerbaijan at 17%, as well as the third biggest for the UAE at 4.7% and Myanmar at 15%

In 2016–20 a total of 94% of Armenian arms imports came from Russia. These included air defence systems, combat aircraft, ballistic missiles and artillery. Azerbaijan’s arms imports in 2016–2020 were more than 2.5 times higher than those of Armenia, with Russia accounting for 17% of Azerbaijan’s arms imports in the period. As its second-biggest supplier, Russia mainly supplied armoured vehicles and artillery.

Egypt received 50 combat aircraft and 46 ship-borne combat helicopters from Russia in 2016–2020. By the end of 2020, outstanding deliveries to Egypt included 24 combat aircraft from Russia.

At the regional level, states in Asia and Oceania accounted for 55% of Russian arms exports in 2016–2020, making up 27% of the region’s total imports, making it the second-biggest supplier after the United States. The Middle East made up 21% of Russian exports again making Russia the second-biggest supplier after the United States at 13% of total imports. Africa accounted for 18% of the Russian exports, with Russia being the largest arms exporter in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016-20 Its arms deliveries to 12 states represented 30% of total sub-Saharan arms imports, compared with 25% in 2011–2015.  In 2016-2020 Russia also made up 9.2% of all European arms imports. Between 2016–2020 and 2011–2015 Russian arms exports to Asia and Oceania fell (-36%), while those to the Middle East (+64%) and Africa (+23%) increased. Aircraft accounted for 49% of Russian arms exports in 2016–2020. These transfers included deliveries of a total of 231 combat aircraft.

Download the full report here.

By Kevin Klemann

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