This paper assesses the importance of Russian arms transfers and Russian defence-technological assistance with regard to Asian military modernisation. It addresses the current state of the Russian arms industry, critical dependencies of this industry on arms exports, and the subsequent importance of the Asia Pacific arms market to the Russian defence industry. It also explores the degree of importance that Russian military-technological assistance has for Asia Pacific militaries, and speculates on future Russian arms exports to Asia, especially to countries that have been large buyers of Russian weaponry in the past, e.g. China, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This paper argues that Russian arms exports to the Asia Pacific are critical both to the Russian defence industry and to regional militaries. The Russian defence industry has recovered greatly from its near collapse in the 1990s, but the sector is still not stable due to uncertain national defence spending and continued structural problems; consequently, arms exports are still critical to survival. At the same time, Russian arms fill key capability gaps in many Asia Pacific militaries, and their advantages when it comes to performance, cost, and availability make them particularly appealing, especially in Southeast Asia.
About the Author
Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, where his work focuses on security and defense issues relating to the Asia-Pacific region, including military modernisation and force transformation, regional defense industries and local armaments production, and weapons proliferation. He is the author of Towards a Brave New Arms Industry? (Oxford University Press, 2003), “Come the Revolution: Transforming the Asia-Pacific’s Militaries,” Naval War College Review (Fall 2005), and “Military Modernization in the Asia-Pacific: Assessing New Capabilities,” Asia’s Rising Power (National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010).
East Asia and Asia Pacific / Europe / Global / International Political Economy / International Politics and Security / Policy Reports
Last updated on 06/03/2018