In late June, the Defence Intelligence Agency released a lengthy unclassified report on the Russian military for the first time since 1991, and it contained an interesting detail about Russian military-hardware exports.
Russia sells military hardware to about 70 different countries, according to the DIA report.
The information in their report was gathered in a number of ways, including human intelligence, satellite imagery, and public information, among others, DIA spokesman Navy Cmdr. William Marks told Business Insider.
Rosoboronexport, the Russian state-owned military company accounting for about 85% of all exports, alone sold military equipment to about 70 countries in 2015, according to the DIA report and Evans.
Fifteen smaller companies make up for the other 15% of exports, which totals about $US2 billion a year, the DIA report said. This means that the actual number of countries that bought weapons from Russia in 2015 could easily be more than 70.
The report does not list the specific countries purchasing such equipment from Russia because that information is classified, Evans said.
From 2012 to 2016, Russia sold weapons to 50 different states, as well as rebel forces in Ukraine, and Moscow remains the second-biggest arms exporter in the world — behind the US.
The DIA report, however, has been criticised by some for being too hawkish, just like previous DIA reports on the Soviet Union.
Sim Tack, an analyst at Stratfor, told Business Insider that previous DIA reports had been attacked for trying to influence policy, and, “the number of countries buying those kind of spare parts or peripherals [from Russia] could easily be that high” because “Russia has sold military equipment to 96 different countries” since the end of the Cold War.
Evans told Business Insider that “we absolutely do not try to influence policy,” and that DIA intelligence assessments are based on strict standards to which the larger intelligence community also adheres.
While Tack said he didn’t find anything in the report that seemed misleading, he added that he thought “the discussion about it being a hawkish report is more about the question of ‘why do we need to publish a report about the Russian capabilities’ and ‘and why now?'”
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