Russia Set to Promote Its Weapons in Southeast Asia: Report

With Moscow quitting prominent European weapons exhibitions in France and Britain, hopes are high that Russian equipment and weapons will become popular in Southeast Asian countries, Kommersant daily reports.

This week a delegation from Russia will hold negotiations with key players in the region, including Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka within the DSA 2018 (Defense Services Asia) weapons exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. As Southeast Asian nations vigorously strive to upgrade their armies, particularly, with the aim of performing counter-terrorist operations, Russia is ready both to export end products and negotiate localized production.

The exhibition is expected to see up to 250 Russian weapons and equipment systems showcased. Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport (part of the hi-tech corporation, Rostec) says aviation is currently the primary focus in the structure of Russia’s exports to Southeast Asian countries.

The plan is to use the talks at the exhibition as a starting point for striking new contracts, the newspaper writes with reference to one of its sources. Overall, the geopolitical factor explains the DSA’s high interest.

“It is more reasonable to promote Russian products in the region with potential demand for it in place,” a source told Kommersant.

The defense industry of Russia is a strategically important sector and a large employer in the country. It is also a significant player in the global arms market. Russia is the second largest conventional arms exporter after the United States, with $13.5 billion worth of exports in 2012. Combined, the USA and Russia account for 58% of all major weapons exports.

According to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russian exports declined 7.1 percent in the five-year period until 2017, due in part to lower delivery levels to some of the main recipients. Most Russian exports (58 percent) went to India, China, and Vietnam.

At the same time, Russia remained the primary supplier of arms to India, accounting for 62 percent of all imports. India and Russia are currently negotiating a contract for the Russian S-400 air defense system in a deal worth over $6 billion.