The Russian Federation’s defense industry provides the authoritarian regime with military power that is used for maintaining its domestic and foreign legitimacy. The industry’s top-management is a major part of Russia’s governing establishment. Nevertheless, the industry suffers from economic inefficiency, lack of human capital and advanced technologies, and governmental over-regulation. These challenges are enhanced by confrontation with the West and efforts to maintain the stability of the regime, which spur Russia’s leaders to rely on economic protectionism and self-isolation.
This trend means that Russia’s political system will rely more on its military power than on diplomacy to achieve foreign policy goals. The Kremlin wants military power will be permanently maintained and developed. The defense industry has bolstered Russia’s relatively high status in international affairs for now, but there is no guarantee that the industry can sustain this trajectory, given the vast problems it faces.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan organization that seeks to publish well-argued, policy-oriented articles on American foreign policy and national security priorities.