Today, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) will release global arms sales data for the past year.
Since 2013, SIPRI’s data has shown an increase in major arms sales to the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. This increase has been driven mostly by Russia, which overtook the UK to become the world’s second-largest arms producer in late 2018—selling some $37 billion worth of arms last year.
India is Russia’s largest arms buyer, accounting for some 35% of Russian arms exports between 2013-2017. This includes S-400 missiles and leases for Russian nuclear-powered submarines. Russia has also increased exports to South-East Asia and Oceania, soliciting sales of tanks, defence systems, fighter jets and submarines to Laos, Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as supplies of firearms to Fiji in 2016.
Expect Russian arms sales to ramp up in the medium-term, in line with the ongoing modernisation of Russia’s armed-forces. Furthermore, strong economic growth in South East Asia will likely feed increasing demand for military upgrades over the next decade. Despite ongoing US pressure on American-aligned nations like Vietnam and Indonesia to discourage buying from Moscow, South China Sea tensions may prove too hard for these nations to resist the Russian arms bazaar.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.