Biden’s policy could open arms markets for Russia

MOSCOW, BM, ($1=73.06 Russian Rubles) – The United States intends to restrict arms sales to countries where human rights are violated. At the same time, the lion’s share of American weapons exported to Asian countries, where the understanding of human rights is strikingly different from US standards.

The administration of US President Joe Biden is preparing to announce a new arms export policy and link it to respect for human rights. Administration officials told Reuters that the new rules will be officially announced in September. “In some cases, there will be additional conditions for obtaining approval,” added a source in the US Congress.

According to him, the new policy will create difficulties in the sale of primarily automatic small arms and surveillance equipment that can be used by the police against civilians. As for the implementation of larger weapons systems, such as anti-aircraft missile systems or systems for the navy, the new measures can only slow down the sale, but such contracts will still be given the green light.

The administration itself admits that the updated policy will primarily affect arms sales to the Philippines, where human rights groups have called for an investigation into the brutality of the security forces during the raids. In particular, it was repeatedly reported that when fighting drug traffickers, they could be destroyed on the spot without trial or investigation.

Washington views Manila as a strategically important ally in countering China in the region, but the poor reputation of local security officials has prompted the Democratic Party to ban US-Philippine cooperation in the arms trade. However, after President Duderta’s threats to break the military agreement with the United States, the initiative of American lawmakers did not receive development.

Recall that the United States is the world’s largest arms dealer, earning more than $ 175 billion a year from it. Between 2016 and 2020, 47% of US arms exports went to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia alone, which is not famous for its respect for human rights, accounted for 24% of the total volume of US arms exports.

Riyadh’s reputation has suffered greatly after the assassination in Turkey in the fall of 2018 of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who harshly criticized the royal family and especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, then-US President Donald Trump said Riyadh was spending billions “buying military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and many other major US defense contractors,” and terminating contracts would be “stupid.”

In this regard, Biden’s new rules are likely to be a departure from Trump’s policy, which prioritized US economic interests when exporting arms. Moreover, in January of this year, the White House imposed a temporary ban on arms sales to the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Saudi Arabia. The contracts for the sale of precision-guided ammunition must also be revised.

The expert is sure that in reality this White House initiative will remain a political declaration and it will not come to real restrictions on supplies. “Biden is working on the Democratic agenda. A couple of transactions may be broken, but nothing will change fundamentally,” the interlocutor assured.

However, the head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov does not exclude that in case of restrictions on supplies from the United States, “a window of opportunities in the field of export opens for Russia because people who pay colossal money for weapons do not like being told what to do.”

“Also, do not forget that the Russian and American arms markets are largely divorced. We compete with the Americans primarily in the Indian market, which the West likes to call the “largest democracy,” the expert continued.

At the same time, Moscow has several advantages in competing for new markets with China. Russian weapons are more reliable and have proven themselves well. “Chinese armaments, which may be in demand by the Arab monarchies and the Gulf countries, are largely“ raw ”- often, for example, there are problems with engines. Therefore, a window of opportunity opens up for us here, too,” added Pukhov.

At the same time, military expert Sergei Denisentsev recalled that for decades there was an unspoken deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia: the Saudis buy weapons from the States and thus support the American military-industrial complex, and the Americans do not meddle in the internal political affairs of Riyadh.

“But declaring a change in export policy and moving from words to deeds is not the same thing. I doubt that the Americans will take such a step. But even if for political reasons this happens, weapons from the United States can be supplied to problem countries under the guise of British ones,” the expert admits.

“Russia has niches in local markets, but it will be difficult for us to build up our presence for three reasons. Firstly, because of the high competition with suppliers from NATO countries. Secondly, due to the concentration in the same Arabia of huge stocks of weapons of a completely different engineering school. Thirdly, because of Moscow’s unwillingness to act as a full-fledged moderator of the settlement of local conflicts,” the expert says. Against this background, the Philippine market for Russia looks quite insignificant, adds Denisentsev.

“To ensure human rights, the Biden administration uses an instrument of gradation of all countries depending on their level of democracy. Accordingly, if a country is authoritarian, Washington threatens to limit partnership with it, trade or impose sanctions,” explained political analyst Malek Dudakov.

“Thus, Washington plans to stimulate the“ democratization ”of several countries. But so far, everything remains at the level of rhetoric. The industry of the military-industrial complex is beyond the maxims of democracy, the political scientist points out. “The Americans will not stop exporting weapons to countries that are not particularly democratic – Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and others.”

Dudakov notes that “for the United States, this is just an important declarative gesture.” “First, they will motivate individual countries to move towards Biden’s understanding of democracy. And secondly, the White House will use it as a kind of club hanging over countries with an alternative understanding of democracy. And for Biden, it is very important for internal political reasons,” Dudakov summed up.

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