is russia fuelling global arms race?

17 مارچ 2010
Dr Paul Holton
New SIPRI data on global arms transfers published today reveal that Russia remains the second largest arms exporter in the world. According to SIPRI data, the volume of Russian arms exports for 2005-2009 is of a similar level to that for 2000-2004. Russia’s share of global exports of major conventional weapons has dropped from 29 per cent for 2000-2004 to 24 per cent for 2005-2009. Although the Asia–Pacific region remained the main destination for Russian arms exports for 2005–2009, accounting for 69 per cent of Russian arms exports, Russia has significantly increased its volume and share of deliveries to North Africa in recent years.
Russia inherited recipients in the North Africa that had been dependent on Soviet-supplied arms. Between 1970 and 1991, SIPRI data shows that the Soviet Union accounted for 90 per cent of Algeria’s imports of major conventional weapons and 78 per cent of Libyan arms imports. During this period Libya was the fourth largest recipient of Soviet arms exports, accounting for eight per cent of deliveries, and Algeria was the eighth largest, accounting for four per cent. When president of Russia, Vladimir Putin offered to cancel debts incurred by Algeria and Libya for these Soviet-era arms transfers in exchange for new arms orders. Algeria accepted the offer in 2006, concluding deals worth an estimated $6.5 billion for combat and trainer aircraft, tanks, submarines, and air defence systems (see table below for more details).
According to SIPRI data, Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia accounted for around three per cent of global arms imports for the period 2005-2009, but the volume of major conventional arms delivered to North Africa in 2005-2009 has increased by 62 per cent in comparison with 2000-2004. Algeria accounted for around 89 per cent of transfers to North Africa during this period, rising from 18th to 9th largest recipient of major conventional weapons globally. However, Morocco has placed significant orders in 2008 and 2009, leading to concerns that Algeria and Morocco are entering into what is regarded as an ‘arms race’.
Some cynical analysts had hoped that Russian arms producers could benefit from an arms race in North Africa. The fact that SIPRI records Russia as accounting for 85 per cent of North African arms imports for 2005-2009 seems to suggest that Russia has succeeded in this regard. North Africa accounted for four per cent of Russian arms exports for 2000-2004 and 11 per cent for 2005-2009. It has therefore become a more significant market for Russia in the face of declining Chinese orders. Russia’s increased share and volume of deliveries to North Africa is mainly thanks to Algeria, as SIPRI data shows it was the third largest recipient of Russian exports of major conventional weapons for 2005-2009.
(Courtesy RIA Novosti)

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