Russia is the second largest arms exporter in the world, after the United States, accounting for approximately 20% of world arms sales. Between 2016 and 2020, Moscow sold $ 28 billion worth of weapons to 45 countries.
Russia exports almost 90% of its weapons to 10 countries. Its largest customer, India, has bought 23% of Russia's arms for about $ 6.5 billion in the past five years. Half of India's total arms imports, 49.3%, come from Russia.
China is the second largest buyer of Russian arms with $ 5.1 billion in the same period. Algeria ($ 4.2 billion), Egypt ($ 3.3 billion) and Vietnam ($ 1.7 billion), according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The weapons that Russia sells
Russia exports a variety of weapons, including aircraft, engines, missiles, armored vehicles and air defense systems. Aircraft account for almost half (48.6%) of Russian arms exports. Between 2016 and 2020, Russia delivered about 400 fighter jets to at least 13 countries. India has bought at least half of them and is also one of only six countries in the world to operate nuclear submarines leased by Russia.
While many of Russia's weapons are upgrades to Soviet-era arsenals, the country is developing increasingly advanced systems, such as the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, which has been sold to China, India, Syria and Turkey. Several other countries have expressed interest in purchasing long-range mobile systems, which cost about $ 400 million per unit.
AK -47: Α-47 : The most famous weapon in the world
The most famous Russian weapon is the AK-47 or Kalashnikov.
Developed by Soviet Army General Mikhail Kalashnikov in the 1940s. The cheap, durable and easy-to-use assault rifle is the main infantry weapon for more than 100 countries. It is estimated that there are approximately 100 million AK-47s, or similar variants, worldwide.
The largest military expenditure in the world
In 2020, The United States has spent $ 778 billion on its armed forces – the largest military expenditure in the world, according to SIPRI.
China is in second place with $ 252 billion, followed by India with $ 73 billion, Russia with $ 62 billion and the United Kingdom with $ 59 billion.
Russia's military spending
< Russia's military spending has risen sharply over the past three decades. In 2020, Moscow spent about $ 62 billion (4% of its GDP) on its military.
The Russian arms industry consists of about 1,300 companies employing about two million people. The largest of these companies is Rostec, which was founded in 2007 by President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has been embroiled in a number of conflicts since becoming a federation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. In 1994, the Kremlin launched an offensive against Chechnya, a breakaway democracy bordering Georgia, in an attempt to overthrow its separatist leadership, but was defeated after a 20-month battle.
Three years later, Russia declared war on Chechnya to regain democracy. The siege of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, was so severe that the United Nations called it “the most devastated city on Earth.” In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. One month later, pro-Russian separatists began occupying territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
In 2015, Russia formally entered the Syrian civil war alongside President Bashar al-Assad and its heavy weapons managed to change the dynamics on the ground. The war, which has displaced tens of millions of people and killed hundreds of thousands, is now in its eleventh year.
In 2018, the government of the Central African Republic – which has been embroiled in a civil war – called on Russia to send mercenaries to train its armed forces. UN experts have repeatedly expressed concern about reports of “serious human rights violations” by mercenaries. Russia, however, has denied the allegations.