War tends to fuel demand for guns, fighter jets and air defense systems from wary countries, and Russia is hoping the US-led military campaign in Iraq will lead to big bucks for its rebounding defense industry. While recent US complaints that Russia supplied Iraq with defense equipment in violation of UN sanctions cast a momentary chill on US-Russian ties, the accusations could very well end up working to Russia's advantage, senior government officials and defense analysts said.
"There is no doubt that the war in Iraq has fueled the arms race not only in North Korea but all over the world," Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov said during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, last week. "As a result of the Iraq war and the accusations of illegal Russian arms deliveries to Baghdad, applications for Russian weapons systems have soared over the past month," Ivanov was quoted as saying. "Thank you for the free advertisement."
Ivanov did not specify which countries have approached Russia for weapons, but defense analysts said top candidates are Middle Eastern countries caught in the thick of the Iraqi crisis such as Syria, Iran and, perhaps, the United Arab Emirates. Other countries that might be interested in acquiring arms include Libya, North Korea and even Indonesia, the St. Petersburg Times reported.