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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arms Trade Reaches Post-Soviet Record

Russia registered a new post-Soviet arms sales record last year, exporting $6.1 billion worth of weapons, a top government official said Thursday.

Mikhail Dmitriyev, the head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, said that Russia also had new weapons contracts totaling $23 billion. "These orders will be fulfilled starting in 2007, and our annual sales will exceed $7 billion starting in 2007," Dmitriyev said at a news conference.

"That makes us optimistic about the future."

Russia's arms exports in 2004 totaled $5.8 billion.

The Soviet Union was exporting weapons worth an estimated $20 billion a year during the 1980s, but most were provided to Soviet allies on a credit or barter basis or even free of charge.

Dmitriyev said that China and India last year remained the leading customers, together accounting for about 70 percent of Russian arms exports.

He said that several southeast Asian nations had emerged as top clients. Indonesia and Malaysia have bought large quantities of Russian arms in recent years, and Vietnam has agreed to buy a license to build Russian missile boats worth $1 billion.

In the Middle East, Russia intends to continue its military cooperation with Syria despite U.S. and Israeli criticism.

"We have a good program for cooperation with Syria," Dmitriyev said. "That deals with repairs, modernization and supplies of new defensive weapons."

Dmitriyev said that Russia would also fulfill a contract to provide Iran with Tor-M1 air defense missiles -- a deal that has drawn strong U.S. and Israeli complaints. He said that Moscow was not negotiating any other weapons deals with Tehran. Demand also was growing for Russian arms in Latin America, where oil-rich Venezuela has emerged as an important customer, Dmitriyev said.