Ukraine Is Selling More Arms to Russia Than Ever Despite ‘Sanctions’

Russia is customer number one for Ukraine's defense industry. Wait, wasn't there supposed to be a ban?

In 2016 Ukraine’s arms industry exported more goodies to Russia than any other country by far. Exports to Russia were worth twice as much as sales to the next biggest customer, China.

Russia also narrowly edged out China in 2014 and 2015. That’s right. For all that talk of Ukraine’s arms sales ban to Russia in fact arms deals continued to flourish with the government Kiev acuses invading east Ukraine and imagines itself to be at war with.

As Ukrainian media points out sales to Russia are now bigger than under the “pro-Russian” Yanukovich in 2013. ($230 million then, $310 million now.)

That’s not to say there was nothing to the ban. Certainly as was much publicized at the time Russians found themselves unable to complete a number of frigates for lack of Ukrainian-built ship engines. But it seems in many other areas business continued as usual.

You’ve got to hand it to Ukraine’s oligarchs. They are nothing if not pragmatic.

Indeed in 2014 Kiev was very late in passing its own (apparently aspirational) arms export ban against Russia. Even as it was heavily lobbying for the EU and US to ramp up its own Russia sanctions it for a long time declined to pass any such measures itself.

The chunk of Russian purchases are engines for its Yak-130 light attack and trainer aircraft. In other words Ukraine factories are helping Russia train its combat pilots — even as Kiev insists the Russian military is fighting its forces in Donbass.

Either even Ukrainian government doesn’t believe that, or they like money too much. Or both.

Sales in millions of 1990 US dollars (1 US dollar in 1990 is 1.84 US dollars in 2017)