Russia is gunning to arm the world.
December 19, 2001 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Russia is gunning to arm the world. "Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov highlighted Russia's eagerness to crank out weapons on a recent whirlwind tour of Latin America in a trip that showed the country is aggressively expanding its focus from longtime buyers such as China and India to whole continents like South America and Africa." I know all countries, my own included, deal arms but the upbeat tone of this article gives me the creeps...
posted by johnboy (5 comments total)
I don't know about the market for exporting land weapons, but I've read that naval exports are the lion's share of their naval-shipyard production now. Meanwhile, a lot of the Northern Seas Fleet is rusting at the pier and their sailors have to spend a lot of time foraging for food.
posted by alumshubby at 8:45 AM on December 19, 2001

Putin just came through Greece and bitched that we don't buy enough weapons from Russia --Greece is #2 or 3 in %GNP defense spending, so we are a "valued" customer.

Why shouldn't Russia sell weapons? if countries want to buy weapons, they will, regardless of their origin. France has been arming the 2nd and 3rd world for years now, this new Russian push is really competition for the French, not the US.

And please don't forget that the US regurarly uses arms deals as either payoffs (Saudi Arabia's egregious buy of a shitload of F-15s after the Gulf war) or as means of political pressure: NATO countries are "urged" to standardize on US high-tech weapons, which makes logistical sense on one hand, but makes those countries completely dependent on the US for parts. In effect, the US can make any NATO country defenceless by cutting off its supply of spare parts --and has done so in the case of both Greece and Turkey for different reasons. Commoditizing the weapons market *may* be a good thing. Time will tell.

Having said that, I have worked with Russian defense equipment to a limited degree. Although far more robust than their western equivalents, Russia needs to work on their logistics: manuals are usually only in Russian, parts are slow to clear the Russian supply chain and because of 80 years of separate technological development they are just built differently enough from the western stuff to baffle maintainance crews.

Factoid: Western helicopters have their main rotors rotate clockwise, while Soviet-block ones rotate counter-clockwise (or is it vice versa?). European choppers are mixed :-)
posted by costas at 9:19 AM on December 19, 2001

Another weird factoid, or maybe it's just an urban myth: The AKM-74 uses a round (5.45.x39mm) close enough to the NATO standard 5.56mm (the M-16, SAW, M-241 etc.) that in a pinch, the Sovs could collect dead Americans' magazines and use them in their own weapons as they stormed across the Elbe.
posted by alumshubby at 9:48 AM on December 19, 2001

never said that Russia shouldn't sell arms, I just find the tone of this article weird. can you imagine an equivalent story in the Washington Post, zealously pushing market opportunities in Africa?
posted by johnboy at 6:25 PM on December 19, 2001

johnboy: I've been reading the Moscow Times on-line for several months--especially enjoying Chris Floyd's "Global Eye"--but have yet to figure out its intended audience or political slant. Lots of tongue in cheek tone, for sure.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:06 AM on December 20, 2001

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