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Interview with the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov on arms exports

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Newspaper"Kommersant " under the heading"The tension has long grown so that you do not notice any additional shades": Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov on the export of weapons" published an interview Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian FederationDenis Manturov.

Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov (c) Anatoly Zhdanov / Kommersant

Sunday in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) One of the world's largest exhibitions of weapons and military equipment - IDEX 2021-is starting. The Russian delegation was headed by the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov. On the eve of the working visit, he told the observer of "Kommersant" To Galina Dudina about what Russian enterprises will present at the first thematic exhibition this year, and why Russia is not ready to unilaterally refuse to supply weapons to the parties to the conflict.

"We are traditionally famous and strong for our anti-aircraft missile systems and air defense"

-The exhibition in Abu Dhabi inevitably has regional features. Can we talk about the specifics of Middle Eastern customers? It is logical to assume that they are particularly interested in the equipment that was used in the Syrian operation: Su-35 and MiG-29M fighters, Mi-28NE and Ka-52 combat helicopters, the T-90S tank, the BMPT tank support vehicle, the Kornet-EM anti-tank missile system, and the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system.

- I will not hide that from experience we see that our colleagues are also interested in this equipment, which was baptized in battle, in this case during the Russian mission in Syria. And it would be wrong to say that we do not take into account the results of the conducted peacekeeping operations. Of course, we will discuss fighter jets and helicopters with representatives of other countries, which are interesting precisely because of the fire support-the nomenclature that was used in Syria is very wide, so we will see what our colleagues are more interested in. But the main theme of the exhibition is still land. And specialists will come in this area: the commanders-in-chief of the ground forces, specialists in combined arms areas.

- Did the experience of the peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh also influence the development of the Russian arms export strategy?

- The strategy in this case does not change, because it is formed by the regulations of the presidential level and is primarily related to the technologies and the format that is defined by the president: what can be delivered, in what volume and to what countries. As part of the state armament program, traditionally, first of all, a decision is made on deliveries to the main customer, the Russian Defense Ministry, and then a passport of export appearance is formed for equipment that receives a permit for its export capabilities.

- What Russian products will be presented and will the existing samples be presented? And how will we respond to our competitors?

- We are traditionally famous and strong for anti-aircraft missile systems, air defense (air defense), and this is what we can export, here we have a significant advantage compared to our foreign colleagues, who are trying to compete with us in these niches.

We do not provide any existing models at this exhibition, with the exception of small arms. To be honest, until the last moment, we did not expect that the exhibition would be full-time, and it takes a longer time to form the exhibition and transport it. Therefore, materials and models will be presented at the stand, which will allow interested specialists to get acquainted with the technical characteristics and discuss commercial aspects. As for items, they will be presented, for example, anti-aircraft missile systems "Pine" - an upgraded version of the SAM type "Arrow" in the export performance, upgraded air defense missile-gun complex "Pantsir", anti-aircraft missile system "Antey-4000". For the first time, the T-14 Armata tank will be presented to potential foreign buyers, and an official presentation will be held.

"Who do you think will be interested in it?"

- I think that first of all the Middle Eastern countries, which are traditionally interested in armored vehicles, as well as the countries of Southeast Asia.

"We strictly comply with international agreements"

- What meetings and high-level negotiations are planned for you on the sidelines of the exhibition?

- First of all, meetings with the top leaders of the UAE are planned, taking into account the fact that I am the co-chairman of the intergovernmental commission on economic and technical cooperation. And my colleagues from the delegation - which will include more than 200 representatives of various departments, organizations, and enterprises-will meet with representatives of other countries in the Middle East. Especially since this is the first full-time international arms exhibition this year, I think there will be a large number of people who want to come to it and hold face-to-face meetings.

- What exactly will you discuss with the UAE leadership? Earlier it was said that Russia and the United Arab Emirates continue to discuss the deal on the Su-35 and the joint creation of a light fighter of the fifth generation.

- I can say without specifics on the topics you have outlined: we have a bilateral agenda and there are joint projects. But we try not to be the first to announce anything until we reach an agreement with the other side.

- Did you manage to agree on a project for the joint production of Kalashnikov assault rifles with Saudi Arabia? Such a memorandum was signed in 2017.

- As for the contract for the implementation of the first stage of the creation of a joint production of Kalashnikov assault rifles, it is signed by the parties and passes interstate approval procedures, after which it will enter into force.

- Then another question related to the UAE. There have been media reports that the US is suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This may mean a revision of the rules of the arms trade, which is being sought by the international community, in particular within the framework of the International Arms Trade Treaty. Will Russia be ready to take the same measures-refusing to supply weapons to the parties to the conflicts?

- We act clearly in the norms of international agreements and the rules that exist. If there is no ban by the UN Security Council on the supply of military and military-technical products to a particular country, then we do not impose any restrictions unilaterally, as a rule. We strictly comply with international agreements, so we will continue to adhere to such principles.

- At the end of January, you met with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya, Ahmed Maitig. Are you discussing with the Libyans the prospects for cooperation after the lifting of the embargo?

- Yes, we are really discussing this prospect and we hope to restore our industrial cooperation relations.

With the Deputy Prime Minister, we discussed a fairly wide range of issues on infrastructure projects, primarily on the supply of civilian products, and we expect that this contact and interest will continue and our enterprises will have the opportunity to receive some orders. We still worked there quite a lot and for a long time and supplied equipment, including military equipment, civil equipment, and industrial cooperation was conducted in terms of the construction of infrastructure facilities, industrial facilities. Now they require modernization and restoration, but I think we should not limit ourselves to this.

After all, there was a protracted conflict, there was a long confrontation over who to supply what to. And the work is getting better gradually. We will probably start with civilian products, and then, when everything in the country gets better, we will return to other issues, too.

- Are you negotiating with the west of Libya or with the authorities in the east as well?

- We are negotiating with the official side.

- At the end of January, The Times reported that the US military somehow received a Russian-made air defense system "Pantsir-S1"in Libya. Does this pose any threat to Russia's security?

- We do not see a tragedy for ourselves in the fact that a copy was somehow obtained there. The complex has already been repeatedly upgraded and today it looks completely different.

- Vladimir Putin noted earlier that the Russia-Africa summit gave an impetus to the development of military-technical cooperation (MTC), that new contracts worth about $1 billion were signed with African states. Is this momentum still there? Are there any new negotiations underway with African countries other than the Arab ones mentioned?

- Yes, cooperation with sub-Saharan countries is developing intensively, and contracts have been signed for an amount greater than what you have just mentioned. Deliveries are already underway, and I must say that the groundwork has been formed for the future. Of course, there are not the same volumes as traditionally with China or India, but in the aggregate of all contracts by country, we can talk about a good potential.

African countries are most interested in small arms (Kalashnikov assault rifles of the hundredth series), melee weapons and helicopters of the Mi-17 and Mi-35 types, as well as anti-aircraft missile and gun complexes "Pantsir", aircraft of the Sukhoi and MiG families, anti-tank complexes and air defense systems "Kornet-E" and "Tor-M2E", tanks and armored personnel carriers. This technique is suitable for their climate, works in any conditions, has been tested in combat operations.

In addition, the issue of repair and modernization of Russian and Soviet-made military equipment in service is currently relevant for many African states. Russia is providing all possible assistance in this matter.

The work on the promotion of Russian military equipment is carried out in conditions of serious competition with the leading players in the international arms market. Despite this, a number of sub-Saharan African States speak of the Russian Federation as a priority partner in the field of military-technical cooperation. In general, military-technical cooperation is carried out with more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Now everyone understands the rules of the game"

- During the pandemic, there were no difficulties in terms of supplies, implementation of agreements?

- From the point of view of the execution of orders, as you know, the goods were not subject to any quarantine restrictions. These are people who are sick, and industrial products were supplied without restrictions. But there are additional difficulties in terms of travel and bilateral exchange of delegations, both for us and for those countries where equipment supplies are planned or with which negotiations and signing of contracts are planned. So, of course, we had to use modern means of communication.

As a result, in terms of volumes and results for our exports, 2020 was even slightly better than 2019. The order portfolio of Rosoboronexport is more than $50 billion, and I must say that this figure has remained at about this level over the past few years.

- Meanwhile, in March last year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) noted that over the past five years, arms exports from Russia have decreased by 18%. Do you see such a trend?

- Our exports have only increased over the past five years. In expert assessments, the authoritative institute, I believe, could proceed from a reduction in the overall volume of Russian production of weapons and military equipment. Our president also spoke about this: the peak of the state armament program has been passed. But this does not affect, for example, the volume of some sectors of industry responsible for the defense complex. For example, for some nomenclature, the volume has decreased, for some-it has remained or, on the contrary, is increasing. All this is always very cyclical, depending on how the state armament program and the main order from the Ministry of Defense are formed.

- In general, is the task to increase the export of weapons worth it or the main thing is not to drop it?

- The question is not to drop or not to drop, it is more important to maintain the forward trend. Exports still do not grow significantly every year, if they grow, then literally by a small percentage, but this is happening progressively. But the most important thing is to maintain a constant volume of the portfolio, more than $50 billion. This is what provides us with stability for the future, and we assume that we have a good foundation for the next five years, which, of course, is adjusted every year, but we look to the future with confidence.

- Did the sanctions affect the export of Russian weapons? If not directly, then indirectly, due to the deterioration of the international situation…

- From the point of view of volumes-they did not affect us, on the contrary, we are growing. Moreover, we do not have military-technical cooperation with Western countries, with the exception of some countries that continue to operate our equipment, and we maintain it with high quality, correctly supply spare parts. But from the point of view of logistics and interaction (and this also explains my very concise comments), the impact is felt. Countries try not to announce or demonstrate something once again, so as not to create problems for themselves in the future. And we strive not to create problems for anyone in terms of this aspect of cooperation.

- So you feel an increase in tension in the negotiations with international partners?

- No, I would say "maintaining tension". The tension has long been built up so that you don't notice any additional shades. We live in this situation, we don't want to get used to it, but we have adapted.

- Are there any plans to reform the MTC system so that Russian enterprises can more actively enter foreign markets?

- Do Russian companies have difficulties? You know, this system has suffered and has been maintained for many years. Moreover, today all enterprises, if desired, can obtain an independent license for the supply of spare parts and independent maintenance of equipment supplied and supplied through Rosoboronexport. And I think this is correct, because I myself remember the times when I worked at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, and it happened that we clashed at negotiations in the same country, say, in the next office, with the Kazan Helicopter Plant. As a result, the prices, of course, won the foreign customer, and our side lost, because, firstly, we did not know how to export efficiently, and secondly, there were elements of disorganization. And now everyone understands the rules of the game, and the system works, in my opinion, effectively.

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