Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov Concern has big plans for the Middle East, as they seek to export their weapons to Arabic nations who present a huge financial opportunity for the weapons maker.
While western sanctions against Russia have put a huge dent in U.S. sales, growing conflicts in the Middle East and African nations mean that violent groups in these regions are looking to do business with the Russian weapons manufacturer.
Alexi Krivoruchko, spokesman for the company, spoke at the International Defense Exhibition about the possibilities for sales in the Middle East after losing its western market that the "Sanctions changed sales. After that we had more sales of military weapons in new markets in the Middle East and Africa,"
"It is not just the AK-47, we are diversifying our strategy into a wide range of products — rockets, drones and others,"Aleksey Krivoruchko, Chief Executive of Kalasjnikov Concern, told defense news that Arab nations will provide a profitable market for their products such as high-tech landing crafts, unmanned vehicles, and rescue boats."We are planning to make these weapons available for the export market," Krivoruchko said, "That's why we chose IDEX as the platform for their launch.
"We are very interested in selling them to Arabic countries, the Middle East is a major market for us and we have found a lot of interest in it and we hope that it will be popular in this part of the world,"Due to the rifles reliability in harsh conditions and low-cost of manufacturing, the AK-47 has quite a reputation and is popular in the United States. However, since the sanctions against Russia were solidified, Kalashnikov has had to look elsewhere for its business ventures and the Middle East is in need of their product.
Kalashnikov has a huge U.S. market, but even prior to the embargo, Kalashnikov was in demand in the Middle East nations. Krivoruchko told Defend News that sales doubled from demand in the Middle East, Africa, and Asian markets last year and the company made its first real profit in seven years, earning 1.42 million dollars.
Kalashnikov announced in Abu Dhabi that it had acquired 51 percent stakes in both Euroyachting Rybinskaya Shipyard, which makes landing crafts, and Zala Aero, a Russian developer of drones that has been quite popular. Krivoruchko said that the demand for these products are huge in many markets.
When asked if conflict with Syrian rebels and ISIS was driving demand, he said that it was difficult to answer, but added that "There is always great interest for our products in the Middle East, Iran and other countries."
One might ask how effective these sanctions are if it serves to arm nations with ambitions hostile towards American interests? Why did the U.S. allow trade in weapons with an arms manufacturer dealing with terrorist nations? In buying weapons from Kalashnikov, were Americans complicit in supporting Middle East conflicts? What actions, if any, can be taken to restrict gun sales in the Middle East without invoking further regulations? More importantly, should we be regulating business overseas at all?