You think the Cold War is over? Think again! Russia and the US remain the leading exporters of weapons to countries around the world and are the two largest military superpowers.
The US remains the largest weapons exporter over the past five years even as Russian and Chinese exports increased more quickly, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported on Monday in its 2015 Yearbook.
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A Swedish research group said in its annual report that Russia remains the world’s second biggest arms trader behind the United States, increasing its share by 37 percent in 2010-2014. China has increased its exports by 143 percent, squeezing out Germany from the top three exporters.
The United States accounted for 31 percent of global arms exports in 2010-2014. Russia remains the second with 27 percent in the same time frame. The United States and Russia made up 58 percent of the global trade in conventional arms. However, the SIPRI data reflects the volume of arms supplied, not the amount of money they were traded for.
The US exports its military equipment to NATO and Middle Eastern allies like Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
While Russia exports to other BRIC nations (Brazil, India and China), as well as Iran, most of Southeast Asia, and North Africa.
China’s exports of arms have more than doubled over the past four years. The Asian superpower has surpassed Germany and jumped from 9th to the 3rd position, however, still far behind from the US and Russia.
The top 4th exporter is Germany now, while the top 5th is France. However, international weapons trades of both European countries significantly dropped in the last five years.
Taken together, these top five weapons sellers accounted for 74 percent of all arms exports. The UK, Spain, Italy, Ukraine and Israel rounded out the top 10.
The overall volume of international arms trade increased by 16 percent in 2010-2014 compared to 2005-2009. SIPRI reports that weapons mostly flow to two regions: Asia and Oceania and the Middle East.
Exports from the Europe decreased by 16 percent in the past five years. Which means that the combined share of the European Union states-members was lower than that of the US and Russia. It is important to note that in the previous five years the combined share of the EU exported arms had been higher than of these two superpowers.
Furthermore, weapons imports in the region dropped by 36 percent by 2014. However, the events in Ukraine may significantly change the situation after 2014 as several countries neighboring with Russia have increased their arms imports.
Dr. Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program, said in the report: “The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the US arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing US military expenditure.”
Meanwhile, the five top importers in the period between 2010 and 2014 were India, Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan, accounting for total 33 percent of global weapons imports.
India, world’s leading arms importer, purchases 70 percent of weapons from Russia. Imports by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council grew by 71 percent, with the Gulf countries having purchased 54 percent of the supplied arms to the Middle East. Imports to the region accounted for 22 percent of global purchases.
Ex-Russian Army General: You never know what to expect from Russia
ValueWalk asked the opinion of Evgeni Solovyov, a retired Russian Army General and a Military Strategies and Technologies expert: “You know, judging by all the military conflicts that took place since the end of the Cold War, we can say for certain that weapons trades are not directly influenced by global military tensions. Most of the states involved in any military conflict tend to buy mainly the outdated weaponry, because in doing so, the buyer is able to buy it for cheap and more in the quantity. Therefore, they prefer quantity over quality, because they think that it’s all about the numbers. They think it’s all about how intimidating and big you look in the eyes of your opponent.”
“What we see in this report is a very tight race between the US and Russia,” says the retired Russian Army General when asked about Russia’s military potential based on the SIPRI annual report. “With Russia accounting for 27 percent of the global arms exports, while the US accounts for 31, I mean, you can clearly see that it’s a very tight race. And if Russia continues increasing its military potential at this rate, then it might even surpass the US. That’s the thing about Russia, you never know what to expect from it, particularly from Vladimir Putin”.
“There are both political and economic factors when it comes to who buys the military equipment from whom. The most successful exporter is usually the one that conducts an independent – sometimes even intimidating – foreign policy. That’s the exact reason why the world is willing to purchase weapons from Russia rather than from Germany, France or Poland, for example. Although the Russia’s military development is outstanding, when it comes to arms trading it’s all about the influence and global role of the seller rather than his military technology.”
He adds: “Selling weapons is like selling make-up: people tend to purchase things based on the success and the illustrative evidence of its effectiveness.”