A U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) report has concluded that Russia emerged in 1995 as the world’s leading arms exporter to the developing world. According to the recently released study, Russia’s defense industries rebounded last year by concluding arms agreements worth some $6 billion, up from $3.7 billion the previous year. That figure topped the U.S., which saw the value of its arms agreements drop to $3.8 billion from $6.2 billion in 1994. France, the leading supplier in 1994, saw its new arms contracts fall from $8.3 billion to $2.4 billion this year, the study said. The report covers arms to be transferred to all nations except the U.S., Russia, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The Russian upsurge came despite a shrinking market for arms in the developing world. Agreements for arms transfers in this sector fell to $15.4 billion last year, down from $60.8 billion in 1988. From 1992-1995 the U.S. dominated this market, accounting for 45.3 percent of all such agreements, the report noted. The developing world is reported to have accounted for slightly more than half of all purchases worldwide last year. (AP, The New York Times, August 20)
The CRS report nevertheless provides only an approximate picture of Moscow’s arms dealings. This is true both because of haphazard reporting of Russian arms agreements, and because the CRS report analyzes arms contracts rather than actual arms deliveries. On the strength of new orders that followed the Gulf War, the U.S., for example, delivered some $9.5 billion in arms last year, compared to $2.4 billion for Russia. (AP, August 20) For all of that, the report would seem to reflect a positive trend in sales that has been boasted of recently by Russian defense industrial leaders. It may also provide some ground for optimism for hard-hit Russian defense enterprises.
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