Russian Weapon Exports

Russia is the world’s second largest weapons exporter, but its stock is slowly being destroyed on the battlefields of Ukraine every day.

Much has been written about Russia’s economic reliance on oil and natural gas exports, but another mainstay of its economy is being destroyed in the Ukraine conflict: weapons. Russia is the world’s second largest exporter of weaponry in the world, after the United States, accounting for 20 percent of global arms sales and $15 billion per year in revenue. Yet this “resource” upon which the Russian economy partly relies is being destroyed each and every day in Ukraine. As of the end of April, Russia has lost more than 3,200 military vehicles and countless quantities of small arms and munitions.  

Furthermore, Russia’s ability to “renew” this resource is being severely hampered by international sanctions. Prior to the war, the Russian arms industry produced around 250 tanks annually, meaning that Ukraine’s documented destruction of at least 500 tanks has already set back Russia’s military production by two years. However, Russia is no longer producing tanks at that level. As Western sanctions choke Russia’s access to high-tech components and other goods, auto manufacturing plants and other factories essential to military operations are closing down.

Despite some efforts in recent years at reshoring critical components of arms production, Russian weapons remain highly dependent on foreign technology. A recent examination of a crashed Russian cruise missile in Ukraine revealed that a huge proportion of critical components were manufactured abroad, including the U.S.- made circuit board that helps guide the missiles to their targets. Russia has found there is no easy substitution for the import process, which has caused delays in domestic projects and foreign sales, compounding productivity problems because of outdated plants and an aging workforce

The failures of Russia’s equipment on the battlefield could have huge consequences for its economy. Between the brand-damage of having its top products blown up in viral videos gleefully posted by Ukrainian drone operators, Russia will simply have a hard time filling orders while scrambling to replenish its own stocks. Russia’s traditional arms clients may turn to foreign competitors, or turn to domestic production, as India has recently canceling a $1 billion deal to purchase Russian helicopters.


  1. This is a topic not much being covered by the press or anyone else for that matter. Indeed, mafia land has always depended on a large part of weapons exports for its income. It now faces a severe dilemma due to the war; sell or use. That is, the little that it can produce. The ones it uses will end up as smoldering hulks. A tank’s life expectancy in a war is measured in weeks or months.

    “Between the brand-damage of having its top products blown up in viral videos gleefully posted by Ukrainian drone operators, Russia will simply have a hard time filling orders while scrambling to replenish its own stocks.”

    This is the funniest part; the Ukrainian brag videos are having a pleasant side effect that no one thought about. Many millions of people around the world have seen pictures and videos of countless destroyed ruskie military gear, and this does not look well for the quality of its weapons. The loss of income due to this fact alone is for now incalculable.

    • I recall an incident in Syria back in the 80s with the Israeli air force. The Soviet sent a high ranking to Syria to find out what went wrong when the IAF destroyed almost the entire Syrian Air Force in one day. They never did figure it out. While Russia has some good air craft now, I wonder about the quality of the pilots.

      • I’m not so sure about their stuff being that good when I read stories about GPS units being tapped in their cockpits and their most advanced planes being downed by Ukraine … not the US or Israel, but Ukraine!

    • Adding to all that, the lack of unity among the Russian citizens in this matter, is only weakening Putin’s power. It is a matter of time until Putin leaves his chair.

      • The biggest majority of people on this globe are hoping for this, but the dirty rat keeps clinging on.

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