Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 41

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, who heads a government commission which oversees Russia’s military and technical cooperation with foreign countries, reacted to the U.S. sanctions decision in a more even-handed manner than did some of his colleagues, however. While suggesting that the U.S. sanctions were unproductive, he agreed that proliferation issues were important. He also said that the Russia and the United States needed to work together to tighten export controls over dual-use and sensitive military technologies (Russian agencies, February 25).

Maslyukov’s intimation that the U.S. charges may have at least some merit was consistent with the findings of a February 11 Russian Security Council meeting in which Maslyukov took part. According to Security Council Secretary (and head of the presidential administration) Nikolai Bordyuzha, participants of that meeting concluded that “blank spots” remain in Russia’s efforts to exert full control over sensitive military exports. He also admitted that the government’s task in this area has been complicated by the proliferation of Russian firms and organizations attempting to deal weapons and military technologies on the world market (Russian agencies, February 11).

The February 11 Russian Security Council meeting was held following the publication of a CIA report which named Russia as one of the world’s worst proliferators of military technology. Moreover, reports have also appeared of late alleging that Moscow has signed agreements to strengthen Iraq’s air defenses and to upgrade its MiG fighters. Russian officials have vehemently denied those reports.

One of Russia’s more highly respected military journalists, Pavel Felgengauer, suggested on February 25, however, that Russia’s arms export control system has become thoroughly bogged down in bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption. According to him, this breakdown in the export control system has allowed interested foreign parties–including the Iraqis–considerable access to Russia’s vast defense industrial complex. In that same vein, he implies that Russian arms dealers will be prepared–regardless of official government policy–to supply weaponry to the Balkans in the event of a another military conflagration there. Russian arms dealers, he says, will also find ready markets in Afghanistan and Libya, along with Iran (Segodnya, February 25).

Felgengauer’s conclusions tend to corroborate those of the Clinton administration–and the Israeli government–which charge that Russia’s arms export control system has begun to erode over the past six to eight months.