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Russian Arms Sales in the Age of Putin: For Politics or Profit? Comprehensive Survey of Weapons Exports to China, India, Middle East, Uae, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria - Securing Leverage to Boost Russia

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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 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. This thesis uses comparative case studies of three geopolitical regions as its backbone. East Asia, due to its geopolitical significance to the Russian Federation, is the initial region this study analyzes with China serving as the first case study. Russia shares a sizeable border with China, specifically the second longest border between Russia and any other country and the sixth longest border between any two countries in the world. Besides the tumultuous period during the Sino-Soviet Split of the 1960s, Russia and China have been strategic allies since the Chinese Communist Party's victory over the Nationalist Party in 1949, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. China's rise as a regional power directly supports Putin's desire for polycentrism, otherwise understood as his belief in the "decline of the West and the rise of the rest." Given the recent economic sanctions and political hostilities between Russia and the West, China also serves as a natural geopolitical ally and economic outlet for Russian political and monetary capital. South Asia is also an important area in which to test hypotheses behind Russian foreign military sales. In this region, India is Russia's leading partner. Similar to China, India has been a long-time ally of both the Soviet Union and Russian Federation and is a part of the BRICS penta-state association (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). More important to the context of this thesis, India has been the biggest importer of Russian arms since the fall of the USSR. India is also involved in a continual dispute with its neighbor Pakistan over the Kashmir and Jammu region. Such turmoil ensures that India will desire to maintain a capable and technologically advanced military. India's need to balance the growing Chinese influence in the region also requires the deterrence factor of a robust and advanced military. Therefore, it serves as another market open to Russian military sales. The Middle East provides the third and final case study of this thesis.


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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 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. This thesis uses comparative case studies of three geopolitical regions as its backbone. East Asia, due to its geopolitical significance to the Russian Federation, is the initial region this study analyzes with China serving as the first case study. Russia shares a sizeable border with China, specifically the second longest border between Russia and any other country and the sixth longest border between any two countries in the world. Besides the tumultuous period during the Sino-Soviet Split of the 1960s, Russia and China have been strategic allies since the Chinese Communist Party's victory over the Nationalist Party in 1949, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. China's rise as a regional power directly supports Putin's desire for polycentrism, otherwise understood as his belief in the "decline of the West and the rise of the rest." Given the recent economic sanctions and political hostilities between Russia and the West, China also serves as a natural geopolitical ally and economic outlet for Russian political and monetary capital. South Asia is also an important area in which to test hypotheses behind Russian foreign military sales. In this region, India is Russia's leading partner. Similar to China, India has been a long-time ally of both the Soviet Union and Russian Federation and is a part of the BRICS penta-state association (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). More important to the context of this thesis, India has been the biggest importer of Russian arms since the fall of the USSR. India is also involved in a continual dispute with its neighbor Pakistan over the Kashmir and Jammu region. Such turmoil ensures that India will desire to maintain a capable and technologically advanced military. India's need to balance the growing Chinese influence in the region also requires the deterrence factor of a robust and advanced military. Therefore, it serves as another market open to Russian military sales. The Middle East provides the third and final case study of this thesis.

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