Research event

Taming the bear? Russian defence production and exports in the war economy

Alex Burilkov, Centre Research Fellow and post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, presents his research on the changes in Russian industrial defence policy since 2022. This event is part of the International Security Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for International Security.

The return of mass attritional warfare on the Ukrainian battlefield compelled a radical transformation in Russian defence production.  There is an explosive growth in the production of most major weapons systems, including significant qualitative and quantitative advances in drone, missile, and electronic warfare systems. Although the massive army fielded by Moscow remains unevenly equipped and trained, premier formations such as Guards Armies boast equipment and training comparable to the finest Western fighting units. This study examines the changes in Russian industrial defence policy since 2022, with a focus on the integration of defence production into the evolution of Russian doctrine, which has been reformed to return to the model of high-intensity peer warfare on a large scale. Furthermore, Moscow has relied on defence exports both as a source of revenue, and as a potent tool of influence in foreign policy. This includes weapons systems but also trained personnel, notably through the Wagner PMC. The study examines the ongoing export capacity of the Russian defence industry, which remains significant even in wartime, and forecasts the impact of the likely reorientation towards export of excess Russian defence production and personnel once the war ends.


  • Alex Burilkov is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for the Study of Democracy (ZDEMO).  He obtained his PhD on the maritime strategy of emerging powers from the University of Hamburg.  He was previously a junior researcher at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies (Institute of Asian Studies), and the Metropolitan University of Prague. Alex Burilkov's research interests are military strategy and policy in Russia, the post-Soviet space, and East Asia.  He also studies the intersection of transnational arms trafficking and terrorism.