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Russia plans to sell $6.1 bln worth of weaponry in 2008

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Russian arms exports may reach at least $6.1 billion by the end of 2008, a senior official at Rosoboronexport, Russia's largest state arms exporter, said on Friday.
GELENDZHIK (South Russia), September 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian arms exports may reach at least $6.1 billion by the end of 2008, a senior official at Rosoboronexport, Russia's largest state arms exporter, said on Friday.

Russia has doubled annual arms exports since 2000 to $7 billion last year, becoming the world's second-largest exporter of conventional weapons after the United States.

"We expect our arms exports to reach at least $6.1 billion this year," Mikhail Zavaliy said.

Russia exports arms to about 80 countries. Among the key buyers of Russian-made weaponry are China, India, Algeria, Venezuela, Iran, Malaysia, and Serbia.

The most popular types of weaponry bought from Russia are Sukhoi and MiG fighters, air defense systems, helicopters, battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles.

Russia also maintains traditionally strong positions in the sales of small arms, anti-tank and air-defense missile systems.

Zavaliy said that combat aircraft remain the key component of Russia's arms sales, followed by naval weaponry. Experts believe, though, that the priority may shift toward naval equipment in the near future.

The Rosoboronexport official also said that the competition between Russia and the United States on the global arms market could become more intense following the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia.

"In the light of the recent events I believe that the U.S. could act more aggressively on the global arms market, although we are used to Washington's attempts to 'play without rules," Zavaliy said.

In the past, Washington imposed sanctions on Rosoboronexport and other Russian companies several times, including over the sale of TOR-M1 air defense systems to Iran, despite the fact that the deals did not contradict any international agreements.

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