Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country’s arms exports stood at $14.5 billion last year, bringing the total value of foreign arms orders to over $56 billion, the highest amount in post-Soviet era.
"Exports of Russian military equipment in 2015 exceeded our expectations and totaled $14.5 billion… As a result, the current arms export orders portfolio has exceeded $56 billion for the first time since 1992," Russian media quoted Putin as saying during a Tuesday meeting of the presidential commission on military-technical cooperation with foreign countries in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod.
He went on to say that in 2015 Russia exported defense products to 58 countries, including Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member states, India, Iraq, Egypt, Vietnam, China, Algeria, which he referred to as Moscow’s major defense markets.
In addition, "new weapons markets in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East are being developed," he said, adding that Russia will keep expanding the export capacity.
Second largest arms supplier
The Russian president also said the country is currently the world’s second largest defense products supplier.
"Russia remains the second in the list of global leaders in defense equipment and arms supplies on the global markets, with confident breakaway from countries following us," the Russian leader stated.
Cooperation with Europe
Putin further noted that military technical cooperation with European countries has “practically stopped,” and the restoration of such ties “will undoubtedly build up trust."
“We hope it is a temporary phenomenon," he added.
Referring to the recent liberation of the Syrian city of Palmyra from Daesh terrorists, the Russian leader said he had a telephone conversation about “mine clearance” in the city with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, and it was "agreed that Russia will provide support for the clearance of Palmyra in general, and most important, of historical artifacts."
He also tasked Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu with organizing and reporting on the demining process in the Syrian city.
Russian bomb disposal troops participate in a demining exercise in Moscow on Monday before leaving the country for the Syrian city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In recent months, Syrian army, backed by the Russian air power, has been making major gains against Takfiri groups, recapturing several strategic areas from their grip, particularly in the strategic northern province of Aleppo.
"Defense industry companies are making really high quality products decently competing on international markets. Capabilities of our equipment and armament were also convincingly demonstrated in practice, in the combat situation when struggling with the terrorist threat," Putin said, referring to the military campaign against Takfiri terrorists in Syria.
On Monday, Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko, the head of Russian coordination center in Syria, said that Russian bomb experts are expected to arrive at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria's northwestern Latakia province over the next days.