Russia’s economy is still declining from Western sanctions and low oil prices, but one industry is booming: arms exports. President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the country exported a better-than-expected $14.5 billion of military products in 2015, and that foreign orders are currently set to top $56 billion. Russia’s military intervention in Syria thus proved to be a testing ground for new hardware (like the Mi-28 attack helicopter) as well as prime advertising for interested buyers ranging from Algeria to China.
On Monday Russian newspaper Kommersant cited Russian government and military sources in estimating the “marketing effect” of Moscow’s Syrian campaign would net arms contracts worth about $7.6 billion. If the price tag of Russia’s Syria escapade was only around $480 million, as Putin claimed, then in strictly economic terms the return on investment was stellar.
(Last year Blouin News reported on Russia’s fast-growing arms industry despite being cut off from Western markets, while noting that the figures are not transparent and thus may not be accurate.)
Still, weapons manufacturing is no substitute for oil as the engine of Russia’s economy…