Such an event as the Ph.D. dissertation (Russian: candidate’s dissertation) defense in April 2019 by Serhiy Stepanovych Horeslavsky, the Deputy General Director of OJSC Rosoboronexport, went unnoticed for wide circle of specialists. The topic of the scientific work “Arms trade as a tool of political influence in the international arena” closely overlaps with the author’s perennial work in the field of military and technical cooperation.

Thus, the dissertation which according to the Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation № 1233 of November 03, 1994, at least was to be attributed to the official documents, appeared in open access. Of course, one can assume that the violation of the Procedure for Handling Official Information of Limited Distribution in the Federal Executive Bodies occurred due to the age-old Russian laxity.

However, it is likely that Serhiy Horeslavsky did it deliberately, just to amuse his ambition. Indeed, would there be any chance for broad thinking and scientific mindset to be appreciated in case the work had remained “Restricted” – marked as “Authorized Staff Only”? After all, over so many years of working in the sphere of military and technical cooperation, a considerable number of friends and acquaintances have been accumulated: from Venezuela and Peru to Beijing and Tehran. The dissertation candidate simply wanted to send an abstract with a dedication to numerous acquaintances.

What was before – the armaments cooperation strategy or Serhiy Horeslavsky’s dissertation?

Coincidentally, the development of the Strategy for Military and Technical Cooperation (which appeared in Russia for the first time due to the international sanctions being imposed on) took place almost simultaneously with the writing and defending of the aforementioned dissertation. There is no doubt that Serhiy Horeslavsky, without wasting the time, used certain theses and blocks of information circulating in Russian official documents with limited access in the conclusions of the dissertation.

To a large extent, one should not be surprised though! The applicant for a scientific degree, before entering the defense, must provide the scientific council with evidence not only of the scientific novelty of the work, but also of its practical value. (Notorious approbation of the obtained results of scientific work). Besides, provided that a Ph.D. in Technical Sciences (Russian: candidate of technical sciences) wants the results of his research to be implemented in some knowledge-intensive production, a Ph.D. in Political Science (Russian: candidate of political science) can prove the practical value of his own scientific work only by referring to federal documents: concepts, strategies and more.

Serhiy Horeslavsky, naturally, did not provide such references in open access publications limiting himself to a few opponent reviews, including the one from Olexiy Fenenko, Doctor of Political Science from Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU). It might also be noted that, as in any other reputable university, the reports on the research work results presented on the MSU website mention works related to the preparation of materials for the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, the Office of the Security Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and other Russian institutions.

Subtleties of the Russian Strategy for the Development of Military and Technical Cooperation

So, what could grateful readers see in Serhiy Horeslavsky’s dissertation? Reducing all the “noise” from the published scientific works, it can be easily assumed what kind of theses are circulating in the federal documents concerning Russian armaments cooperation strategy. Not to burden the readers with the details of the above-mentioned opus, we will only give a brief overview.

Strengthening Russia’s political presence in various regions of the world (including the Balkans, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa) is expected to be carried out by expanding the export markets of the Russian defense industry. The following key theses are meant to be used for resolving the stated issue.

Barter schemes

Dominance in the arms market in countries that do not have “live” money but possess minerals. It is about the transfer of weapons in exchange for the access of the Russian monopolies to the national natural resources of the countries of Latin America and Africa: in exchange for diamonds, oil, and more.
Russian political elite views bartering as a way of avoiding or even opposing US sanctions. Andriy Pyatakov, senior research fellow at the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, even invented a new pseudo-scientific term ‘The imperative of diversifying foreign economic relations’ to replace the notion of barter.

Official Moscow believes that the use of barter schemes will help deepen trade and economic connections with Latin America and Africa, and the sanctions regime will not be able to ruin the development of military and technical cooperation. Especially, considering the fact that the examples, as they say, are within one’s grasp. In particular, in Venezuela, Moscow had to compete with Beijing for military contracts, even considering the fact that supplies to Caracas were carried out with the provision of preferential long-term credit lines by Russia for the purchase of weapons. Following the same patterns, contracts were signed with Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile.

Increasing quotas for free-of-charge foreign military personnel training

Russia successfully uses the mechanism of “free” training for the national military personnel and technical specialists from foreign countries (within the framework of certain international agreements) on the basis of its own special military educational institutions. Relevant orders and instructions allow, if necessary, during the training to acquaint foreign students with documents that include those revealing a state secret (according to certain Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation).

It is all about a long-term perspective: maintaining closer professional ties with military attaches at foreign embassies in Russia as well as recruitment of foreign students as spies. Two translators, who are usually either intelligence officers or their operational sources, are assigned to each foreign study group. Under the guise of educational work, there is a comprehensive and in-depth study of foreign students and, as a result, the establishment of trusting relations.

However, the process of consolidating informal cooperation is not always clearly expressed, it all depends on the situation. This is done, inter alia, assuming that foreign students, having joined the top ranks at home in the future, will at least continue affiliating with Russia in the field of military and technical cooperation, and at most they will work in favor of Russian secret services.

Non-competitive counter methods

Another important thesis is the aggressive use of unfair methods of competition. The main emphasis is on pushing out partners – the republics of the former Soviet camp, which compete with the Russian Federation in the international arms market.

It is curious to know what the dissertation was guided by, unequivocally hinting at the need to oppose Russia’s competitors, which in fact are the partner states, CSTO members and CIS members? How do Russian officials plan to strengthen international relations with “partners” within the framework of bilateral agreements on the development of armaments cooperation against such contradictions?!
However, the answer to this question is on the surface. The dissertation emphasizes that the main competitive advantage of Russian weapons is ease of operation and relative cheapness. “So far, many countries (again, it relates to the former Soviet republics) have successfully used the production capacity left over from the Soviet Union in the national arms industry. In addition, exporting Russia’s arms is impossible to a number of countries due to political and strategic reasons.”

As a result, Russia is doing everything possible to push out partners who also rely on the above-stated advantages. Once again, there is nothing unusual about the conflicting actions taken by official Moscow. On the one hand, Russia loudly declares the deepening of armaments cooperation with “partners,” on the other hand, it acts behind the scenes (or, conversely, idles) against the interests of the CSTO member states.

Informal security guarantees

According to Serhiy Horeslavsky, exporters being able not only to supply high-quality arms but also to provide unofficial force support will have an advantage in the world arms market. Hence, one cannot but recall the cases of using private Russian military companies to support the regimes of certain dictators.
Thereby, the content of the Russian Strategy for the Development of Military and Technical Cooperation may remain a secret for anyone but our readers. Unfortunately, there is no intrigue in the Russian Strategy which is extremely boring indeed!