Made In Germany For Russia’s Army

Germany is joining a scramble among West-European producers of military equipment for Russian orders. NATO and the United States are silent bystanders to this growing trend, which challenges the Alliance’s defense posture and planning, as well as the US’s hitherto trend-setting role in the Alliance.

On February 9 in Moscow, the Chairman of Dusseldorf-based Rheinmetall Defense, Klaus Eberhardt, signed with Russian Defense Minister, Anatoliy Serdyukov, an agreement whereby Rheinmetall will plan and equip a troop training center in Russia. The center is to be co-located with Russia’s main artillery training range at Mulino near Nizhniy Novgorod on the Volga. It will enable Russian brigade-sized units to test combat readiness for combined-arms operations, using Rheinmetall’s state-of-the-art equipment to simulate realistic battlefield conditions and assess troop and staff performance.

In addition, Russia’s defense ministry and Rheinmetall agreed to negotiate the establishment of a joint enterprise on Russian territory for “maintenance, servicing, and modernization of armaments and military vehicles (‘tekhnika’)” (Interfax, RIA Novosti, February 9;

Rheinmetall becomes the first Western company to endow Russia with a modern center for troop training. According to Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the Natsionalnaya Oborona [National Defense] journal and member of the advisory Public Council of Russia’s Defense Ministry, Russian forces will gain access to best-practice German training methods thanks to the Rheinmetall-equipped center (RIA Novosti, February 14).

Rheinmetall, one of Germany’s largest producers of military equipment, was also approached by Russia’s defense ministry in 2010 for the possible sale of a manufacturing license for armor plate. This may have some connection with the February 9 decision (see above) to negotiate toward a joint enterprise in Russia for modernizing military vehicles (the Russian military term “tekhnika” customarily denotes armored vehicles).

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