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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Russia tops US arms exports
Russian bombers
Russian exports rose 24% in 2001
Russia has overtaken the United States to become the world's leading conventional arms exporter for the first time, increasing deliveries sixfold over the last five years.

The annual report for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said that there was a sharp reduction in US deliveries last year, though it remained by far the largest exporter for the last five years.

At the same time, Russia increased its volume of exports to India and China.

However, the SIPRI report said the relatively small number of outstanding orders compared with those of the US could not sustain Russia's position beyond 2001.

China topped the list of importers for 2001, though India and Pakistan both increased their spending on arms imports over the year.

Increase predicted

Russia's exports rose 24% to nearly $5bn in 2001 compared with the US figure of $4.6bn, a drop of 65% since 1998.

But the US was still by far the biggest exporter over the last five years, with $44.8bn compared with Russia's $17.4bn.

Two years ago, experts predicted an increase in Russian conventional arms sales after US President Bill Clinton decided to deploy a missile defence system.

The increase is likely to be shortlived, though, as Russia has only a small number of major recipients and has made only limited investments in military research and development.

Indian change

India currently receives 80% of its weapons from Russia.

But Delhi changed its acquisition policy after the US lifted its arms embargo in September.

Though the US itself is unlikely to benefit significantly from the change, France and Israel are now likely to weaken Russia's position in the Indian market.

See also:

07 Feb 01 | Middle East
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