RUSSIAN ARMS SALES IN THE AGE OF PUTIN: FOR POLITICS OR PROFIT?
Reaves, Andrew R.
Moltz, James C.
Jasper, Scott E.
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International arms sales are a useful tool in executing a country’s economic and foreign policy strategy. As such, investigating the drivers behind these exports discloses a state’s priorities. Since Vladimir Putin came to power, Russian arms sales have steadily increased in several geographic areas while Russo-American relations have gradually deteriorated. Therefore, as Putin seeks to foster global multi-polarity in order to challenge the American-dominated geopolitical world order, how is Russia conducting international arms sales and for what reasons? This thesis investigates Russian arms sales to China, India, and the Middle East in order to determine Putin’s motives behind his export agenda. It focuses on analyzing the potential relationships of two main hypotheses: domestic economic factors and international political factors. This thesis argues that while Russian arms sales generated many domestic economic benefits, especially in the early years of Putin’s presidency, international political factors provided the greater impetus behind Russia’s export of military hardware. Specifically, Putin used arms sales to secure both influence and leverage with selected partners with the intent of developing a polycentric world, balancing the United States, and improving Russia’s reputation as a great power. In conclusion, although Putin has achieved some gains from using arms exports as a foreign policy tool, the long-term benefits of his overall strategy are minimal.
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