Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 154

The value of Russian arms sales to developing countries fell to US$1.4 billion last year, continuing a nearly decade-long decline which, according to an annual U.S. congressional report, is likely to continue in the years to come. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, authored by Richard Grimmett, the value of Russian arms sales agreements over the period from 1991-1998 totaled US$28 billion, third in the world behind the United States (US$43 billion) and France (US$34 billion). Russia’s share of the developing world market declined over that eight-year period, however, to last year’s US$1.4 billion total from a high of approximately US$8 billion in 1991.

The study, entitled “Conventional Arms Transfers to developing Nations,” suggested that the cash shortfalls, which in recent years have afflicted a number of governments in the developing world, could also spell trouble for Moscow in the future. It noted that–apart from China and, to a lesser extent, India (both major buyers of Russian armaments)–most potential major purchasers of arms who could afford to pay cash were longstanding clients of the United States or major Western European exporters. Because of its large-scale dealings with China and India, however, the report said that Russia was the largest arms supplier to Asia in the period from 1995-1998, with a 40 percent share. The United States was second with 15.8 percent. Of the almost US$30 billion in arms delivered worldwide in 1998, some US$23.2 billion went to developing countries (IPS, AP, Kyodo, August 6).