Russia buying back tank and missiles parts exported to Myanmar and India

As reported in Nikkei Asia, Yuko Seki and Shota Fujii's analysis of customs clearance data suggests that Russia is suspected of repurchasing military supplies that were previously exported to Myanmar and India. The survey, published in Nikkei Asia, revealed records indicating that Russia has repurchased parts for tanks and missiles. The motive behind these repurchases is believed to be the improvement of older weapons intended for use in Ukraine, with the assistance of countries that have longstanding military ties with Russia.
Follow Army Recognition on Google News at this link

Army Recognition Global Defense and Security news
The Myanmar Army/Tatmadaw operates 139 T-72 MBTs (Picture source: Myanmar Army/Tatmadaw)

The analysis conducted by Nikkei involved the examination of customs clearance data on shipments to Russia, obtained from sources such as ImportGenius, a research specialist based in the United States, and Exim Trade Data of India. The data included information on Russia's imports of weapon components like tanks and missiles. For instance, UralVagonZavod, a tank manufacturer for the Russian army, imported military products from the Myanmar army (known as Tatmadaw) worth $24 million on December 9, 2022. These components were registered as products manufactured by UralVagonZavod.

The imported goods, as indicated by their harmonized system (HS) codes, suggest that UralVagonZavod repurchased 6,775 sighting telescopes and 200 cameras for installation in tanks. Nobuyuki Akatani, a retired senior officer from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force involved in tank development, commented that these are likely optical devices used to measure the distance to targets and precisely aim at them.

According to "The Military Balance," an annual report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia has an inventory of approximately 5,000 tanks. Oleg Ignatov, a Russia analyst at the International Crisis Group, stated that Russia possesses many old T-72 tanks in storage that require modernization and could potentially be deployed on the front lines. He added that optics pose a significant challenge for the Russian military-industrial complex, and it is plausible that they are attempting to address this issue through these repurchases.

Previous trade data indicates that Russia previously relied on Western technology for optical equipment production. However, due to trade sanctions, Russia appears to be struggling to acquire the necessary components, hence resorting to these repurchases.

Nikkei reached out to UralVagonZavod, the Russian government, and Myanmar's military regime for details on the repurchase of military products but received no response. The customs clearance data referred to the items as "imported under a reclamation act," suggesting that UralVagonZavod had exported defective military products to the Myanmar army in 2019. However, military analyst Kinichi Nishimura, a former member of Japan's Ministry of Defense, noted that any defective products should have been replaced during a thorough inspection conducted at the time of import.

Other analysts concurred that the quantity of returned items, in the case of warranty returns, is unusually high. Jakub Janovsky of Oryx, a Dutch defense intelligence analysis website, expressed this view.

Furthermore, the Russian NPK KBM, the Machine-Building Design Bureau responsible for missile production, purchased six components for night-vision sights for ground-to-air missiles from the Indian Ministry of Defense for $150,000 in August and November 2022. These parts, manufactured by KBM, are essential for the missiles' nighttime and low-light performance. KBM had previously exported the same type of parts to India in February 2013.

While it is possible that Russia reimported these parts for repairs, there were no records indicating that the items were sent back to India as of the end of March. Nikkei's request for comment from both KBM and the Indian ministry went unanswered.

Defense News June 2023