We will proceed now to this interview with Alexander Mikheev, General Director of the Russian state entity called Ros-Oboron-Export (ROE). According to its website and mission statement, ROE is “единственная в России государственная организация по экспорту всего спектра продукции, услуг и технологий военного и двойного назначения” (the sole governmental organization of Russia which [is allowed to] export a whole spectrum of products, services, and technology of military and dual use”). From this, we deduce that Mikheev is a very powerful man, sitting at the center of Russia’s Military-Industrial Complex.
Mikheev was born in 1961 and graduated from the Moscow Institute of Civil Aviation, later finishing post-graduate courses at the Military Academy of the General Staff. In the year 2000 ROE was established as the official weapons exporter of the Russian Federation by decree of President Putin; and Mikheev starting working there just a year later. Eventually, by 2016 he had worked his way up the corporate ladder all the way to CEO.
Russian journalist Sergei Safronov, who works for the state news agency “Russia Today” caught up with Mikheev in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the latter was showing off Russians weapons at a trade show called DSA-2018. For translating the interview, I will assign these guys initials of SS (Sergei Safronov) and AM (Alexander Mikheev):
SS: Alexander Alexandrovich, given the facts of Western sanctions, how would you characterize the current work of ROE on the international market?
AM: Our work today takes place in complicated economic, political, and competitive circumstances. In order to maintain our position on the world weapons market, ROE is working out new and unique propositions for our partners, including the transmission of technology. Special attention is paid to the localization of production, and also to post-sale servicing of the product.
SS: Has the successful application of the new Russian systems of weapons and military technology in Syria, had a positive effect on the portfolio of [sales] orders of Russian arms exporters?
AM: Indeed, we are feeling a heightened interest of our international partners towards our military technology, which proved its tactical-technical characteristics in war conditions during the course of the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Syria. This relates to military planes, helicopters, armored tanks, engineering-sapper technology, also naval, air and land methods of attack. Yes, there is interest towards the full range of Russian military product. Do we have concrete [sales] orders and a growth of our portfolio of orders? Yes, we have all of that, but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
SS: What does your portfolio of orders look like today?
AM: As of this moment, our portfolio is balanced, and comprises around $45 billion dollars. In 2017 around 40% [of the portfolio] consisted of signed contracts for anti-air systems and electronic networks. In our current portfolio, these same items constitute around 30%.
SS: What are your plans for the company this year?
AM: Arms exports in 2018 should not be lower than they were in 2017.
SS: What were they last year? I heard a figure of around $13 billion.
AM: That sounds about right. The amount was somewhat higher than $13 billion, and we over-fulfilled our plan’s target. Almost 1100 contracts were signed with foreign customers in 2017. In the past year representatives of our company took part in the work of inter-governmental commissions and working groups in 48 countries.
SS: Already this year we heard about contracts being signed for the delivery of 11 Russian SU-35 destroyers to Indonesia. Is this related to the experience of using this plane in Syria?
AM: I have no doubt that the choice of the SU-35 by the Indonesian armed forces was the correct, and timely, decision. The multi-purpose and highly maneuverable SU-35 possesses the highest flight-based technical characteristics, the majority of which (tactical radius, weight-bearing load, hyper-maneuverability, spare fuel tanks, a practical ceiling [?]) far exceed the Western competitors, which ensures it a high effectiveness of application and the possibility of solving a whole series of military tasks with a smaller number of flying devices.