An independent Russian expert warned on April 4 against excessive optimism in the country’s arms export community, arguing that Russia’s rising earnings from arms sales could peak and then begin falling soon after the year 2000. According to Ruslan Pukhov, Russian arms exports may indeed reach $7 – 7.5 billion in annual sales by the year 2000, as many in the arms community predict, particularly if international sanctions are lifted against Iraq and Libya. But Pukhov argues that Moscow’s ability to sustain sales at those levels in the decade beyond 2000 is endangered both by the country’s continuing reliance on a small number of customers and by the relatively narrow range of weapons systems that it is successfully peddling abroad. On the first count, Pukhov says that more than 60 percent of arms contracts currently held by the Russian state arms trading company, Rosvooruzhenie, involve India and China. But these two countries, he points out, have oriented themselves over the longer term to producing their own weapons, for domestic use and for export. Russia is actually advancing this goal, he argues, through the granting of production licenses on its own hardware. (Interfax, April 4)
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