Russia has the upper hand in weapons production over the West and intends to keep the rate of growth high, a top Russian minister said on Monday after both the West and Russia ramped up arms production for the Ukraine war.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, triggering the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II and the deepest confrontation between Russia and the West since the depths of the Cold War.
Ukraine and its Western backers ramped up arms production in an attempt to defeat Russian forces on the battlefields of Ukraine. Russia also hiked production but says the West is to blame for the war which Moscow dates to 2014.
“I don’t want to boast, but I can say that we began to gain and picked up the pace of production earlier than Western countries,” Denis Manturov, the deputy prime minister who oversees arms production, told the RIA news agency.
“Another question is how long this race will last,” Manturov said, adding that a 2025-2034 armament plan was due to be approved next year.
President Vladimir Putin and his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, have said that production of artillery, drones, tanks and armoured vehicles is soaring.
Some former leaders of the West have spoken about a new Cold War between Russia and China on one side and the United States and its allies on the other, though Russia’s $2 trillion economy would find it hard to counter the entire might of the West alone for long.
According to IMF data, the United States’ nominal gross domestic product was $27 trillion this year while China’s was $17.7 trillion.
“We must both replenish reserves and maintain the given rate of production,” Manturov said.
“As far as it comes to the guts of Western countries – here I would not want to speak for them.”
Manturov said that the volume of state defence orders in 2023 has doubled over the prior year, with production of “certain weapons” rising ten-fold.