Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Plans to Cut Red Tape That Hampers Arms Traders

President Boris Yeltsin plans to remove bureaucratic barriers that hamper Russian weapons manufacturers from winning a larger share of the global market, his prime minister said Wednesday.

"Arms exports are essentially important for increasing Russia's military and political influence on the world scene and promoting its socioeconomic development,'' Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said at a government meeting that discussed arms trade.

Russia currently is the world's fourth largest arms exporter, following the United States, Britain and France. Russian weapons have a good reputation for ruggedness and reliability and are usually cheaper than their competitors.

Arms sales abroad have become a major revenue source for the cash-strapped government, as well as the last hope for survival of Russia's ailing weapons makers, who are unable to sell their products at home.

"Arms exports alone enable the defense industry to maintain its potential to assure the security of the state,'' Stepashin said.

He and other officials criticized the current export regulations that often require up to one year to complete a deal, thwarting lucrative contracts. The lack of coordination has also led Russian companies to compete with each other.

"What is going on among state brokers and defense hardware manufacturers and developers is deplorable,'' Stepashin said.

Yeltsin is expected to issue an order that would fix the existing flaws in state regulation of weapons exports.

Earlier this week, Yeltsin reshuffled the leadership of Russia's leading state arms exporter, Rosvooruzheniye, firing its chief, Grigory Rapota, and naming Alexei Ogaryov to succeed him.

Officials said Russia exported $2.3 billion of military hardware in 1998, and expects sales of $9 billion over the next five years. The state earned $1.18 billion from arms exports from January to June 1999, its highest six-month weapons sales figure in five years.