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Study shows arms embargo wouldn't hurt Russia's military

Published:Monday | July 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM


An arms embargo against Russia would be little more than symbolic because Russia is largely self-sufficient in supplying its armed forces, a report argued yesterday.

European Union countries exported $583 million of military equipment to Russia last year, less than one per cent of the nation's $68 billion defense budget, according to a study by IHS Jane's, which provides analysis on the defense industry and security issues. The bulk of that was a $521 million payment to France, which is building two Mistral class warships for Russia.

The propriety of arms sales to Russia was questioned last week as the United States and European Union debated tougher sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's government because of its support for Ukrainian rebels, who are believed to have fired the missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 people on board.

Many of the existing arms deals are the product of a brief period between 2010 and 2012, when Russia sought Western help in modernizing its military, said Guy Anderson, a senior principal analyst for aerospace, defense and security at IHS Jane's.

Putin reversed that strategy in 2012, when he decided that Russia should be self-sufficient once more and ordered the military to stop buying Western materiel.

"Russia's reason for doing this was security," Anderson said. "You could probably argue they saw something like this coming."