In the late 19th and early 20th century, Russia was considered a technically underdeveloped country, and the larger part of the weapons it used the nation exported from Western countries. However, in the 20th century, the domestic industry saw an explosive growth. Within a short historical period, Russia emerged as a powerful nation with an enormous military and engineering potential and one of major exporters of modern arms and military hardware, i.e. the most advanced hi-tech type of industrial products.
Those developments have helped each of Russia’s partner countries exercise their sovereign right of collective or individual self-defense according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, and also have contributed to the preservation and consolidation of Russia’s role worldwide. For Russia, MTC with other countries has turned into a special area of foreign trade, which stands at the junction of global politics and global arms trade. Important goals of Russia’s foreign trade relations with other countries today include reinforcement of the country’s military and political foothold in various regions of the world, and maintenance of required level of the nation’s export potential in the international arms market.
Specialists working in the area of MTC improve forms and methods of their activities on an ongoing basis, because the world today develops at a fast pace, gradually changing what is MTC. Relations in the area of sale and purchase of armaments and military equipment are transformed into joint, together with partners, development of new specimens, their output, distribution and service maintenance. The outcome of this work is largely determined by flexibility of laws regulating MTC as a system, by the ability of enterprises to develop military goods that will be able to compete in terms of cost-effectiveness, and by adequate and continuous support, by the government, of scientists, designers, engineers, technicians and workers who create those products.
Essentially, as a business, export of military goods today includes analysis of the global market environment, identification of needs of a particular buying country, targeted marketing, preparation of commercial proposals, multi-tiered and often long negotiations, execution of contracts, production and delivery of arms specimens to the customer, and, afterwards, their aftersales service and upgrade. Besides those key phases, there are numerous important peculiarities that sometimes dictate the fate of multibillion contracts and Russia’s standing as a reliable partner with a worldwide repute.
KEY MILESTONES OF RUSSIA’S MTC
1917, 20 May (2 June) — To coordinate activities in matters related to foreign procurements, the Inter-Departmental Committee for Foreign Procurements, chaired by General of the Artillery (four-star general) A.A. Manikovsky, an aide to the war minister, was established. The Principal Directorate for Foreign Procurements (Glavzagran) was set up as an executive body of the Inter-Departmental Committee, with Maj. Gen. A.A. Mikhelson at its head.
1919, 1 March — A decree of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic set up the Special Department for Foreign Military Provisions, with A.N. Olekhnovich at the helm, in lieu of Glavzagran. The Special Department was authorized to exercise powers of the Principal Directorate of the War Office, interacting with other agencies.
1924 — To complete import orders of the war office and other government agencies, the Special Department for Urgent Orders (Spotekzak), headed by V.P. Martynov, was set up at the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade. To execute its commissions, special Engineering Departments were established abroad under trade missions. Between 1924 and 1925, Spotekzak reported to an authorized representative of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR at the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade. Spotekzak was abolished in 1927.
1927 — Decree No. 23/4, dated January 20, of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR established the Department for Currency Settlements under the Financial Planning Directorate (FPD) of the Procurement Directorate of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. The Currency Accounting Department (such was the name on the roster) was headed by G.G. Bokis, Deputy Head of the FPD. The Special Department for Foreign Military Provisions, which was compiling plans of imports of the People’s Commissar for Military and Navy Affairs according to orders of supporting directorates, became part of the Financial Planning Directorate as its fifth department, headed by L.A. Rodov.
1927, 16 November — Decree No. 121 of the Procurement Directorate renamed the Currency Accounting Department into External Orders Department (OVZ). In December 1927, the position of Deputy Head of Procurements was instituted, and W.E. Harff was appointed to it.
1928, 24 July — A decree of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR appointed N.N. Voroshilov authorized representative of the People’s Commissar for Military and Navy Affairs at the People’s Commissariat for Domestic and Foreign Trade. According to a regulation approved by the People’s Commissar for Military and Navy Affairs, the External Orders Department (OVZ) was to report to him. The authorized representative was a direct subordinate of J.S. Unszlicht, First Deputy People’s Commissar for Military and Navy Affairs.
1929, 20 November — All functions pertaining to procurement abroad were transferred to the Military Economic Directorate of the Red Army.
1930, November — Corps Commander V.M. Gittis became a new authorized representative and head of the External Orders Department (OVZ). In December 1930, a new organizational chart of the External Orders Department was approved. Decree No. 1255 of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade ordered: “[...] Engineering Departments of Trade Missions of the USSR abroad shall be deemed to be special departments of the OVZ and maintained from the latter’s budget.”
1936, 23 December — The OVZ became part of the headquarters of the People’s Commissariat for Defense of the USSR. The head of the OVZ was also an authorized representative of the People’s Commissariat for Defense at the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the USSR. In that period, Brigade Commander A.N. Redkin-Rymaszeuski was in charge of the department.
1939, 5 January — Pursuant to a resolution of the Defense Committee under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, the OVZ was transferred from the People’s Commissariat for Defense to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade under the name of Special Department of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade. On January 17, People’s Commissars K.E. Voroshilov (Commissar for Defense) and A.I. Mikoyan (Commissar for Foreign Trade) signed an act of transfer for the department. In that document, the department was called Engineering Department for the first time, and that name was used for its subsequent versions. Between 1939 and 1941, the Engineering Department of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the USSR was successively led by Col. Eng. Mashtakov and Col. Eng. Kormilitsyn.
1942, 27 April — The Engineering Department was renamed into Engineering Directorate of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the USSR, and Maj. Gen. of Military Engineers I.F. Semichastnov, who simultaneously was Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade, was placed in charge.
To coordinate activities of agencies handling exports and imports of weapons and military equipment (Engineering Directorate of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade, 9th Directorate of the War Ministry, 10th Directorate of the General Staff of the Soviet Army, and 10th Department of the Navy General Staff), on May 8, 1953, an order of the Council of Ministers of the USSR established the Chief Engineering Directorate (GIU), as a unit of the Ministry for Domestic and Foreign Trade. Maj. Gen. of tank troops S. Sidorovich was the first person to be appointed head of the GIU.
1955, 15 January — The GIU was detached from the Ministry for Foreign Trade and included into the newly established Chief Directorate for Affairs of Economic Relations with Countries of People’s Democracy (GUDES) under the Council of Ministers of the USSR.
1957, 1 July — According to a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR, GUDES was transformed into the State Committee of the USSR for External Economic Relations (GKES), to which the GIU was also attached.
1968, 8 April — A resolution of the government created, within the GKES, the Chief Technical Directorate (GTU), on the basis of the 5th Directorate of the GIU. D.G. Kazyukov was the first to be appointed head of the GTU.
1988, January — The Ministry for External Economic Relations was established on the basis of the abolished Ministry for Foreign Trade and the USSR State Committee for External Economic Relations. The new ministry absorbed both the GIU and the GTU. At the end of that year, an order of the Council of Ministers of the USSR detached from the GIU the Chief Directorate for Collaboration and Cooperation (GUSK), which was the third and independent head office of the Ministry for External Economic Relations. Col. (afterwards, Maj. Gen. of aviation) V.D. Osipov was the first to be appointed head of the GUSK.
1992, January — A decree of the President of the Russian Federation reorganized the GIU and the GTU to form the Russian State External Economic Association for Exports and Imports of Military Products and Services, or VO, Oboronexport (literally: “Defense Exports”) and the State External Economic Company for Exports and Imports of Weapons and Military Equipment, or GVK, Specvneshtekhnika (literally: “Special Foreign Hardware”), respectively. General management of both Oboronexport and Specvneshtekhnika belonged to the Chief Directorate for Military Technical Cooperation. First Rank Capt. I.M. Misnik was appointed Acting Chairman of Oboronexport, and Rear Admiral S.N. Krasnov was put in charge of Specvneshtekhnika. Oboronexport, Specvneshtekhnika and GUSK (the acronym survived) retained their status of structural divisions of Russia’s Ministry for External Economic Relations.
1993, 25 November — A decree of the President of the Russian Federation established, on the basis of Specvneshtekhnika (GVK), Oboronexport (VO) and GUSK of Russia’s Ministry for External Economic Relations, the State Company for Exports and Imports of Weapons and Military Equipment Rosvooruzhenie (literally: “Russian Weapons”), with a status of independent commercial entity whose activities were not subordinate to federal authorities. Lieut. Gen. V.I. Samoylov was the first to be appointed Director General of a new state-controlled company.
1997, 20 August — A decree of the President of the Russian Federation, “On Measures for Consolidation of State Control of Foreign Trade Activities in the Area of Military Technical Cooperation of the Russian Federation with Foreign States,” set up a state-controlled intermediary called Promexport, a federal state unitary enterprise (FSUE), to sell decommissioned military equipment abroad (decommissioning was part of a reform of the military). V.E. Filimonov was appointed Director General of Promexport (FSUE). Russian Technologies (FSUE) was established soon after.
2000, 27 April — Decree No. 750 of the President of the Russian Federation attached Russian Technologies (FSUE) to Promexport (FSUE).
2000, 4 November — Decree No. 1834 of the President of the Russian Federation on a merger of Rosvooruzhenie (FSUE) and Promexport (FSUE) established Rosoboronexport (FSUE). A.Yu. Belyaninov was the first person to be appointed Director General of Rosoboronexport (FSUE).
In 2004, S.V. Chemezov was placed in charge of Rosoboronexport (FSUE), and A.P. Isaykin replaced him in 2007.
In 2017, A.A. Mikheev became Director General of JSC Rosoboronexport.