The Russo-American military competition in the Far EastApril 25, 2012
Morad Ouasti from GlobeAnalytics.com has published a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) based analysis on arms transfers to Asian nations from weapon producing nations. Overall, the report shows that, despite occasional spikes, there has been a steady decline in arms transfers to both Middle East and Far East nations over the 20 year period from 1989 to 2009. What is most interesting about the report, in my opinion, is the way that it graphically represents the rivalry between the US and Russia for influence in East Asia over the last decade. Beginning about 1999, Russia surpassed the US in arms transfers to Far Eastern nations, but both are near parity today. The charts below clearly show the “battle lines” that are being drawn – Russia has been funneling large amounts of material to China and India, while the US has been sending smaller amounts to a larger number of clients – Taiwan, Japan and South Korea chief among them. The US has also been ramping up its deliveries to other nations on the Asian Pacific rim, and has also made a concerted effort to enter into arms packages with India. While many analysts see China as the primary challenger to US influence in the coming decades, this analysis shows how big a role Russia continues to play on the geopolitical chessboard.