Russia’s service members tested more than 320 types of weapons during their operations in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday according to Russian News Agency (TASS) reports.
“We checked more than 320 types of different weapons, including, by the way, your helicopters,” Shoigu said at a meeting with employees of the Russian helicopter manufacturer Rostvertol.
The helicopters were refined after the operation, Shoigu said adding “at least, in terms of weapons.”
“One of the helicopters we saw today is the result of the Syria operation,” he said. “Now we have such weapons, thanks to the operation in Syria.”
Arms sales are a key part of Moscow’s push to increase its geopolitical clout from the Middle East to Africa.
“We came out with a highly successful year,” Dmitry Shugayev, who heads the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said on the Rossiya 24 news channel, adding that 2020 “was special” because of the pandemic.
In 2019 and 2018, Russia received weapons orders worth $51.1 billion and $55 billion respectively from Middle Eastern countries, according to Chief Executive of Russian arms giant Rostec, Sergei Chemezov.
The Middle East has been a major market for arms sales in the past decade. Arms imports by Middle Eastern countries increased 102 per cent between 2011-2015 and 2017-2019, according to new data on arms transfers published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
In June, Russian media claimed Iraq was interested in purchasing the S-400 missile defence system and S-300 air defense systems as well as Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets from Russia.
In 2019, Russia and Egypt signed an arms deal worth at least $2 billion. It involved the purchase of over 20 4++ generation Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets (Flanker-E).
In spite of the rise in the purchase of Russian arms, Middle Eastern countries import only ten per cent of their weapons from Russia, while 54 per cent comes from the US and nicen per cent from France, according to SIPRI.
Moscow’s intervention in Syria tipped the conflict in favour of President Bashar Al-Assad. The Syrian premier said his army, before Moscow’s military intervention, had been facing a “dangerous situation” with an armed opposition directly funded and equipped by Washington and other Western powers, alongside Saudi Arabia and Qatar who had seized main cities and towns.