The Russian arms industry, nurtured under Putin’s first presidency from 2000 to 2008, has sold weapons to post-Soviet states and Cold War allies for decades on the strength of Soviet-era technology.
But the industry has largely stagnated due to a lack of funding since the collapse of the Soviet Union, leaving weapons manufacturers dependent on outdated designs.
Still, Russia has set another record in foreign arms trade. According to Putin, the value of Russian weapons delivered to foreign customers in 2012 exceeded $14 billion. This is 6% more than in 2011 ($13.2 billion) and more than twice compared to the $6.5 billion reached in 2006.
Although no regional breakdown of the defense export has been officially revealed, India - the largest importer of all - is likely to remain the largest importer of Russian weapons, specifically. Despite the fact that the expected hand-over of the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (ex-Russian Admiral Gorshkov) was postponed to 2013, the list of Russian weaponry received by the Indian military still looks impressive and reportedly includes two Talwar-class frigates, about two dozen Su-30MKIs, several MiG-29K/UPG and up to 20 Mil Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters. Venezuela, Algeria and Vietnam are reported to be among top importers as well.
The share going to China is not as significant as it used to be in the 1990s and the early 2000s, but in 2012 this country received Russian engines to power its own fighters and bombers, as well as purchased 50 Mi-171 transport helicopters.
Nevertheless, the current export backlog shows minimal growth. Putin, speaking earlier, says this year Russian defense manufactured received foreign orders at more than $15 billion. This means that the current order backlog grew just by about $1 billion compared to $40 billion at the end of 2011, but is still lower compared to $45 billion in late 2010.