Roots Running Deep Arms Sales and Russia's Excursion into Syria
AIR WAR COLLEGE MAXWELL AFB United States
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Reminiscent of the Soviet era, military arms exports have once again become a major instrument for projecting Russian power and influence, and are integral in bolstering a fragile economy and offsetting the damages caused by Western sanctions. Russias involvement in the Syrian War on behalf of Bashar Al-Assad indicates a growing primacy of Putins willingness to take calculated risks within the Russian sphere of influence and to use military exports as a political tool to achieve national security interests. In Syria, Russia utilized its military exports to enhance its image as a world power, maintain access, and counter Western influence in the Middle East. In addition to sending advanced weaponry to Syria, Russia showcased its military hardware against Western made weapons, sending a clear signal of Russian reliability and sophistication to nations wanting to upgrade, purchase or diversify their military inventory. The state owned and controlled Russian defense industry remains a fundamental instrument of national power and supports the achievement of Putins national security goals. Military sales represents an important aspect to understanding the potential for future Russian adventurism. Hence, future Russian military expansion in what it considers its sphere of influence, with Putins goal to reemerge as a great power, can be anticipated through looking at Russias defense export sales. The inextricable link between foreign military sales and the achievement of Russias national security interests is an important aspect in avoiding the next strategic surprise.
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