The War in Ukraine Could Dent Russia’s Clout as an Arms Dealer

During that period, South Korea sent warships to the Philippines and Thailand, submarines to Indonesia, and combat and trainer aircraft to the Philippines and Thailand. Russia also lost a few potential deals. Indonesia canceled an order for 11 Russian fighter jets last year, buying American and French planes instead.

For many Southeast Asian nations, the United States is an increasingly attractive arms supplier because it links weapons purchases with military or diplomatic support against China, Mr. Wezeman said. Several European arms suppliers have been willing to help countries in the region develop their own arms industries and capabilities, in some cases through technology transfers, he added.

Another reason to avoid purchasing Russian arms is to signal a neutral position on the invasion of Ukraine, said John Parachini, a senior defense researcher at the RAND Corporation.

“Despite a likely aggressive Russian effort to market its arms exports in the Southeast Asia, they will find fewer customers,” he said.

One exception might be Myanmar, where the ruling military junta, saddled with U.S. sanctions that limit its weapons purchases, has signaled a willingness to sign more arms deals with Russia. However, there are questions about whether the Kremlin would have the supplies to manufacture them.

Another could be Vietnam, Russia’s largest arms client in Southeast Asia. Because that country’s military arsenal has been built around Soviet and Russian weaponry for decades, adding weapons from new suppliers could create compatibility issues, said Ridzwan Rahmat, the principal defense analyst at Janes, based in Singapore.

At the same time, he added, Vietnam appears to be “slowly shifting its orbit from Russian systems to a mix that includes NATO-compliant ones, although this will take decades.”

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