The Influence of the Pandemic on Russia’s Defense Industry – The Jamestown Foundation

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into a recession and damaged global supply chains. Russia’s defense industry has not been immune to these disruptive processes, and it came under government-mandated lockdowns between March and June 2020. The shutdowns have already created delays in weapons supplies to the Russian Armed Forces, and those gaps in arms procurement have, in turn, negatively impacted revenues coming into the defense-industrial sector. Many of Russia’s defense companies have tried to blame the pandemic for their own manufacturing failures. But even where such attribution is justified, the main coronavirus-related problems faced by the arms manufacturing sector are actually less direct, caused by inevitable deficits in the state budget and the devaluation of the Russian currency. These economic challenges not only leave the defense industry more vulnerable financially but are also likely to, over the long term, force Russian arms manufacturers to become increasingly insulated from the global market.

Supplies of weapons to the Russian Armed Forces were apparently delayed during the first half of 2020. Unlike in previous years, the Ministry of Defense did not report accepting any military products in March–April or (to date) in July 2020. According to a procedure established in 2014, the defense minister reports twice or thrice a year on how many weapons were supplied by the defense industry to the Russian military (Kremlin.ru, March 11, 2016). The postponement of the ministerial report does not necessarily mean no arms or equipment were supplied at all, but it does
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