Russian arms 2010 exports hit record at $8.6 bln

MOSCOW, March 9 (Reuters) – Russian arms exports hit a record high of more than $8.6 billion last year, with China purchasing 10 percent of the total, Russian weapons export monopoly Rosoboronexport said on Wednesday.

The amount was slightly higher than the $8.5 billion of exports in 2009, though it fell short of expected revenues of $10 billion, after Russia failed to close several longstanding weapons deals.

The exporter also has been hit by recent unrest in Libya, with a leading Russian arms official saying last week that Moscow would lose $4 billion in arms deals due to ongoing violence.

« In 2010, as our company marked its 10-year anniversary, we topped $8.6 billion in sales, » Rosoboronexport general director Anatoly Isaikin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

The state-owned company, which has customers ranging from China to Venezuela, also said its order book was worth almost $40 billion in January 2011.

China accounted for up to 10 percent of Russian arms sales abroad for each of the past three years, Isaikin said.

Russia is the world’s second largest arms exporter, selling everything from military rifles to jets and submarines.

Isaikin said he did not expect ongoing unrest in the Middle East to have a significant effect on its order book this year.

« We are worried about what is happening there, but the situation in these countries will not significantly effect our order portfolio, » Isaikin said, without mentioning the $4 billion figure cited last week.

Rosoboronexport accounts for between 80-90 percent of Russian arms exports, which have risen in recent years as arms buyers seek alternatives to United States weaponry. Many of those clients are opposed to U.S. foreign policy, such as Venezuela, whose arms deals with Russia have angered Washington.

Russia has inherited numerous arms relationships from Soviet times.

(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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