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Russia and Malaysia

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Some thoughts at the Diplomat on the future of Russian arms exports to SE Asia:

Malaysia is a significant customer of Russian hardware. Su-20MKM Flankers, and MiG-29 Fulcrums make up the bulk of its fighter fleet, along with F/A-18 Hornets.  Malaysia also purchases air-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, and similar ordnance from Russia.  Indonesia buys a broader array of equipment from Russia, including helicopters and anti-ship missiles.  However, both Malaysia and Indonesia have displayed considerable willingness to purchase weapons from other partners, making their relationship with Russia strictly arms-length.

The survival of these relationships depends, to some extent, on how deftly Russia plays the diplomatic game over the next few weeks. Thus far, it doesn’t look too promising. Russia’s quandary is to maintain a stance of studied belligerence towards Ukraine and the United States, moderate indignation towards Europe, and civilized behavior to the rest of the world. The downing of the Malaysian airliner puts these into tension. Russia has proposed a frankly incomprehensible theory about how a Ukrainian Su-25 might have shot down the Malaysian jet.

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