Staunton, April 6 – After five years of increasing production of civilian and military planes, intercontinental ballistic missiles and space probes, Russian firms produced 13.5 percent fewer in 2018; and the decline has accelerated: In the first two months of 2019, it produced 48 percent fewer than in the same period a year earlier, according to Rosstat figures.
One of the reasons for this significant change is the US has blocked the delivery of many dual use technologies that Russia needs to produce these systems, according to the RBC news agency in reporting the official Russian government numbers today (rbc.ru/economics/06/04/2019/5ca72bfa9a7947fcb5c578f2).
Another reason behind this decline, Russian experts tell RBC, is that the government isn’t ordering such equipment at the same rate as it did only a year or two ago. Several years ago, the defense ministry purchased up to 100 military planes annually, but today that figure has fallen to between 50 and 60. A similar decline has occurred in helicopter purchases.
Defense experts with whom RBC journalist spoke add that they expect further declines in government orders and thus purchases in the next few years, and they point out that reversing this decline will not be easy as in many cases it takes several years to get production of any system up and running.
All these figures, assuming they are more or less accurate and with Rosstat in recent months that is a major assumption, do not mean that Moscow may not be producing better but fewer weapons. But it is certainly an indication that the assumptions of some in Russia and the West that the Putin juggernaut is getting bigger and bigger almost certainly are overstated.