The report "Weapons supplies to developing countries 1998-2005" published by the research service of the USA Congress contains data claiming that last year Russia became number one in weapons export to developing countries with the total sum of supplies contracts amounted to 7.1 billion dollars. According to this document, excerpts from which were published with comments in The New York Times, Moscow beat Washington, which took the third position with its 6.2 billion dollars contracts. The second position belongs to France: it sold weapons on 6.3 billion dollars, according to the US Congress.
However, several facts of the "sensational" document cause serious doubts. First of all, data provided by the US Congress do not gee with the information spread in the beginning of the year by the Federal commission of military-technical cooperation of Russia where the volume of Russian weapons export in 2005 was estimated 6.126 billion dollars. The sum can be considered record as in recent years Russian exporters could hardly reach the verge of 5 billion dollars. It seems logical to be interested in clarification of the 1 billion difference in the Congress and the Federal commission data.
Washington didn't beat about the bush to find an explanation of the difference mentioned above: their comments indicated the fact that they also included Russian export of several land anti-aircraft defense systems (zenith-missile complex TOR-M1) to Iran. At the same time the report didn't emphasize the fact whether Moscow had already supplied the systems to Teheran or not. It only informed that the affair cost 700 thousand dollars and that apart from zenith-missile complex Russia had also sold 8 air tankers to Iran. Besides, Washington included Russian help concerning Teheran's military equipment modernization into the volume of Russian supplies to Iran. In two words, Russia became "champion in weapons export" through not only India and China, but also Iran.
And this is the second point that causes hesitations about objectivity and reliability of the analysis held by the research service of the Congress. Warlike equipment and arms export has always been quite a politically loaded issue. While marking Russian success in weapons trade the US report distinctly remarks upon their backsliding from leading positions in this chart. Interestingly, this happens straight prior to the Congress elections. The report claims that the States have lost a considerable share of the weapons market since 2004. That year the US did 9.4 billion dollars on weapons trade while Russia did only 5.4, and now Russia is one billion dollars ahead. The conclusion which is likely to get into many people of electional age minds is quite predictable: to vote for democrats who can bring back our leadership in weapons trade which means new jobs, new earnings...
It is necessary to mention that weapons export affairs in the States are not on the decline. In 2005 the US income from weapons trade was inconsiderably smaller than in 2004, besides, Russian achievements in this sphere don't look that impressive in comparison with just one of the US contracts - 7 billion dollars contract with Turkey. Moreover, the US also provides NATO countries with weapons as well, while the mentioned market zone is deadly closed for Russian weapons suppliers.
The General assembly of NATO has recently made a decision to organize a special group to work out new international regulations concerning weapons trade and export. Experts hope that after the regulations come into force data on the achievements in this sphere will be more truthful and reliable.
Translation: Lavrentyeva Natalya