In an opinion piece about last week’s rumours of a Russian missile sale to Syria, Pavel Felgenhauer notes a worrying aspect of the Russian arms trade in general. Namely a lack of central control.
Ivanov stated that there were no official negotiations to sell missiles to Syria, but there are several different semiofficial entities in Russia that can negotiate and deliver almost any modern weapon while the authorities turn a blind eye, provided the buyer has the cash.
The latest Russian-Israeli missile crisis has once again highlighted the issue of who (if anyone) really controls the export of sensitive technologies and weapons from Russia. It sometimes seems that exports are only controlled by the greed of arms traders and corrupt bureaucrats.
I’m pretty sure Putin administration is able to tightly control sales of ‘high profile’ weaponry. It isn’t going to get involved in a deal which upsets the United States without very carefully considering the implications.
But I wonder just how many smaller weapons get sold unbeknownst to the Kremlin. It only takes a few SAMs in the wrong hands to not only kill hundreds of people, but to cause an international incident.