The American authorities will purposefully work to reduce the attractiveness of Russian weapons on the international market. The US Congressional Research Service offered to discuss how, in addition to the sanctions already in force, this can be done. The prepared document says that the Kremlin uses arms sales to advance its foreign policy interests and can thus “undermine” the influence of the United States.
Russia is the second largest arms exporter after the United States, the report notes. Since 2016, the Russian Federation accounts for about 20% of world sales, more than 45 countries purchase Russian weapons. The American authorities have already introduced a number of sanctions restricting the export of Russian weapons, but they cannot be considered fully effective.
In addition, the document indicates that sanctions pressure can play against Washington itself, as it causes a negative reaction from importing countries, that is, potential US customers. The restrictions could inadvertently push states closer to Russia, congressional experts say. Many countries rely heavily on Russian weapons, and an immediate withdrawal from them will be problematic for them.
Recall that the US Congress passed the Law on Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA), which allows the imposition of sanctions against third countries that have entered into contracts with Russia for the purchase of military equipment. Whether or not this right is exercised is up to the executive branch. The law was applied, for example, against Turkey, which Washington tried for several years to dissuade from buying the Russian S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems. Similar threats are now being voiced against India, which has also signed a contract for the supply of Triumphs.
The Research Service of the Congress notes that Russia is positioning its weapons as reliable and durable at a price lower than the alternatives of the West. This approach attracts countries that cannot afford “expensive and more complex Western systems.” Key buyers of Russian military equipment are Algeria, China, Egypt, India and Vietnam. As the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said in June Dmitry Shugaev, last year, Russia sold more than $ 15 billion worth of weapons. This corresponds to or even slightly exceeds its exports in previous years, which fluctuated between $ 12 and 15 billion.
Konstantin Blokhin, Leading Researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences believes that alternative methods to reduce the attractiveness of Russian weapons will be a massive information campaign against Russia.
– Russian weapons have a number of advantages over American ones. First, it is much cheaper. If we compare our S-400 and Patriot missile defense systems, or our tanks and American Abrams, Russian weapons can be obtained almost 50% cheaper.
The second advantage is efficiency. It is clear that any effectiveness is tested in practice, but it is already clear that in many qualities American weapons are inferior to Russian models.
And the third point is that Russia does not link the sale of its weapons with military-political alliances. The United States is associated with such alliances with Japan, South Korea, and other countries, and practically obliges them to buy their weapons. Try to buy another weapon. We have a free hand. We ourselves do not particularly enter into military alliances, and our customers are not obliged to enter into any alliances with us. There is only business here, and this is very important.
It turns out that our weapons are more effective, cheaper and do not impose political obligations on buyers. This is especially important now, when the world is in crisis, coronavirus, many countries’ economies are stagnating, and an arms race is underway in many regions. Therefore, Russian weapons began to outperform American ones in many ways, and in the United States they are worried.
SP: – What can they do to reduce the attractiveness of Russian weapons?
– Of course, these are sanctions. But in addition to restrictions, they will demonize Russia in every possible way, say that the purchase of weapons from the Russian Federation will strengthen the “criminal regime”, that Russia is acting together with China, is challenging the Western world, and in general this is a new “axis of evil.” In general, this is the same tactic used during the Reagan era, only now China has been added to it.
The United States will continue to say that buying weapons from Russia strengthens its foreign policy line, aimed at undermining Western states.
“SP”: – Could this affect potential buyers of Russian weapons? After all, the same Turkey did not refuse the contract for the supply of the S-400, even despite the sanctions.
– With Turkey, everything has been clear for a long time. It cannot be influenced by the publication of a few articles in the American media or discussions in Congress. Erdogan is on his mind and is pursuing a multi-vector policy on all fronts. The same can be said for many other traditional buyers of our weapons. India is an important player, a great power that the United States is fighting for and wants to use in the context of containing China, so it will be handled with caution. China, of course, will not refuse supplies either.
These schemes are already aimed at new buyers. Now Russia is increasing its share of the world arms market. To prevent this, the United States will conduct its information campaign.
Military expert, political scientist Ivan Konovalov believes that the effectiveness of American measures against Russian weapons is limited, although in the short term they may bear fruit.
– There are not so many tools of this kind, the question is in their application. One of them is an information campaign. But when the US says that Russia is undermining its position in the international arena, what are they doing themselves? Washington and I, at least, are not allies, and we may well participate in fair competition. They also undermine the positions of not only competitors, but also their own partners. Remember one of their last antics when they thwarted a contract to supply French submarines to Australia. They openly opposed their own NATO partners for their own benefit. The United States is acting completely unscrupulous.
This very statement about the search in Congress for new evidence that Russian weapons are not so attractive is already part of an information campaign that has been going on for a long time. It is doubtful that the Americans will come up with new ways, but they should declare their search, which they did.
Although their arguments seem strange. It’s funny when the Americans say that military-technical cooperation is an element of politics. Of course it is. The leadership of that country, which does not understand the obviousness of this fact, in vain receives a salary from taxpayers’ money. We, like the United States, use military-technical cooperation to promote Russia’s interests, and we do not hide this. But the United States is furious that we, with limited resources in comparison with them, are doing this very successfully. They are very annoyed by this and want to do something about it.
“SP”: – How effective can this campaign be? And will the US use CAATSA against buyers of Russian weapons?
– CAATSA takes advantage of the fact that payments for deliveries under contracts are carried out in dollars, and the United States can block these transactions, since they pass through the dollar system. But a way has already been found to counteract these restrictions – these are settlements in national currencies. They are already being implemented under both Chinese and Indian contracts. So this law was bypassed.
It must be admitted that at a certain stage the CAATSA law influenced the situation and created turbulence in the arms market. Many contracts were tightened, the terms were shifted. But the problems began to be resolved by force, and they were able to do it. Today this law is just part of the overall picture of the fight in the arms markets, and it is already obvious to everyone that it was introduced solely to fight Russia in the arms market with dirty methods. And after what happened between the United States, the Australians and the French with submarines, the unscrupulousness of the Americans became clear to everyone.