Russian Weapons Firms Eye National Sales of $6 Bln

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IL Serge Pod #18.04.2001 20:50

Serge Pod


Russian Weapons Firms Eye National Sales of $6 Bln

Russia could boost its annual arms sales by nearly one-fourth, but only if it sells to markets opposed by the United States, the head of a top defence holding firm said on Tuesday. Boris Kuzyk, the head of New Programmes and Concepts (NPK), told a news conference that defence firms could increase exports to about $6 billion if they clawed their way back into markets lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"This is just one sixth of the weapons market and well within Russia's reach...Russia once gave up part of what it held in this market. It is time to take that position back," he said. President Vladimir Putin told a government commission on military trade last month that Russia exported $3.68 billion in weapons last year, with revenues to federal coffers totalling $2.84 billion.

Kuzyk said Russia could increase sales to $4.2 to $4.5 billion over the coming years by stepping up partnerships with allies such as China, India, Iran, Egypt, Algeria and Syria. "Specifically, these countries should become the foundation on which Russia builds contacts, with potential partners in this sphere in southeast Asia, the near east and Africa," Kuzyk said.

Washington has criticised the export of Russian arms and technology to what it calls "rogue states", and has said plans to create a U.S. national missile defence system stem directly from Moscow's willingness to "sell anything to anyone for money". Kuzyk seemed unconcerned by such criticism.

"One still has to defend one's own interests," he said, adding that potential partners in Europe were Germany, France and Great Britain. "Western Europe is feeling an increasing need to oppose U.S. expansion in (the arms industry) by setting up firms producing its own high-tech types of weapons," he said.

Kuzyk added that developing the arms industry was key to reducing the economy's reliance on Russian commodity exports.

NPK, which holds a controlling stake in 15 defence firms, was set up in 1998 and is this year investing $60-90 million in projects. Last June, Kuzyk said NPK's export contract portfolio was around $960 million.

Russia sells just five percent of the world's arms, compared with 50 percent sold by the United States. //Reuters

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