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Russian arms consumer base shifting

Feb. 5, 2013 at 1:18 PM

MOSCOW, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Russian military sales are shifting from Asian and Middle East markets toward those in Latin American and Africa, a Russian arms official said Tuesday.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service reported last year that, in 2011, U.S. weapons sales accounted for about 75 percent of the world arms market with $66.3 billion. Russia came in second with $4.8 billion in sales for the same year.

Alexander Fomin, director of Russia's military sales service, said Moscow has lost a number of clients because of political developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

"While losing (some customers), we have gained new markets, like Venezuela for instance," he told Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti. "We are getting back forgotten, old Soviet markets, like Peru, for example."

Russia's military relationship with Syria is cited as a reason for Moscow's objections to resolutions presented to the U.N. Security Council meant to find an end to the conflict. Work in Syria, said Fomin, "is being impeded."

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ross Gottemoeller is to visit Moscow next week to discuss bilateral arms control measures.

Missile defense and nuclear proliferation issues have strained U.S. and Russian relations in recent years.

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