Russia claims arms exports to India worth $13 billion over five years

Russia is the second largest arms exporter in the world after the US

An Indian Navy officer walks past a MiG-29 fighter jet at Cochin Shipyard in Kochi, in September 2022.  AFP
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Russian arms exports to India have reached $13 billion over the past five years, according to the state-linked Interfax news agency, while an additional $10 billion of exports are on order.

Despite western sanctions on the Russian arms industry, Dmitry Shugayev, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Co-operation, said that there remains strong interest from buyers, particularly in Asia, from countries including China and India.

“Despite the unprecedented pressure on India from western countries led by the United States in connection with Russia's special operation in Ukraine, it continues to be one of Russia's main partners in the field of military-technical co-operation,” Interfax agency quoted Mr Shugayev as saying.

Mr Shugayev referred to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, which involved about 200,000 soldiers and thousands of tanks advancing towards Kyiv and gaining control of several southern ports.

Interfax claimed Russia’s arms exports have not been affected by the war, which continues to absorb vast amounts of Russian military hardware. Some analysts say this has led to a reduction in exports, in addition to the threat of sanctions against anyone who purchases Russian equipment.

At a defence expo in Moscow in August, Alexander Mikheyev, the director general of Russian arms company Rosoboronexport, said he expected Russia’s arms exports to drop to about $10 billion for 2022 from a pre-war level of $14 billion.

Following the onset of Ukraine war, Indian media reports suggested that Delhi had cancelled an order of Russian MiG-29 fighter jets after pressure from the US. But Mr Shugayev said at a defence show in August that the orders would still go ahead, in addition to Russian companies sending a range of other equipment, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.

The US recently estimated that Russia had lost half of its operational tanks in the conflict and there have long been reports that Russia is running low on precision-guided weapons such as cruise missiles, and turning to Iran for cheaper alternatives such as one-way attack drones, sometimes dubbed “kamikaze drones.”

According to Interfax, Russia continues to export around $14-15 billion worth of arms per year, about the same as its pre-war exports.

Mr Shugayev said Asian customers are particularly interested in Russia's S-400 Triumf missile defence systems, short-range surface-to-air missiles systems such as the Osa, Pechora or Strela, as well as Su-30 and MiG-29 planes, helicopters and drones.

Another Russian military official was quoted by Interfax as saying that Moscow was producing S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems for India and intended to complete the deliveries on time.

Russia's Tass state news agency said that Russia will present about 200 samples of weapons and military equipment at the 14th international aerospace exhibition Aero India 2023, which opens on Monday in Bengaluru.

India is scouting for billions of dollars worth of military planes, completing jetliner deals to meet civilian demand and pressing global aircraft manufacturers to produce more locally at the show this week.

Updated: February 13, 2023, 10:37 AM