Russia's Means of Global Influence

Russian Pantsir-SA missile and artillery weapon systems drive during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia June 24, 2020, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Pantsir-SA missile and artillery weapon systems drive during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

As nations jockey for geopolitical influence, Russia has aggressively interfered in other states around the globe to exert its influence. Looking beyond its borders to Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, Russia seeks to influence global and regional policy through arms sales, the use of private military contractors, political interventions, social media and disinformation campaigns, and military force. Its 2014 military invasion Crimea and Ukraine, interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, poisonings abroad of regime opponents and shielding the Syrian government from international criticism for its use of chemical agents against the Syrian people are just some of the ways Russia has exerted its influence in the international system.

Researchers from the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD) are committed to understanding why and by what methods and means Russia is engaging in its long-term malign interference in the international system of states. On this site you will find our latest research and commentaries on these efforts as well as our work on Russia's economy, environment, and technology sector, and its complex and changing relations with NATO and the world. You will also find analyses that examine the policies through which the international community can — and does — push back.

Where Does Russia Export Arms and Security Services?

Researchers have compiled open source information to create maps to track where Russia markets and sells military equipment.

One series of maps tracks the marketing and sale of specific weapons systems.

In 2022, these details were combined with information from a companion project that examines China's security exports to produce a map showing Russia's and China's military influence in Africa.

Africa in Focus: Where Are China and Russia Exporting Military and Security?

(RAND TL-A2045-3, 2022)

Russian PMCs or weapon exports or Chinese PSCs or weapon exports (only one country reported)

  • Botswana
  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • E. African Coast
  • Eritrea
  • Gabon
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Madagascar
  • Mauritania
  • Niger
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Swaziland
  • Togo
  • Zimbabwe

Russian PMCs and weapon exports (no Chinese activities reported)

  • Burkina Faso
  • Equatorial Guinea

Russian PMCs or weapon exports and Chinese PSCs or weapon exports (one type of activity from each country)

  • Chad
  • DRC
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Libya
  • Rwanda
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Tanzania

Russian PMCs and/or weapon exports and Chinese PSCs and/or weapon exports (three of the four types of activities)

  • Djibouti
  • Mali
  • Mozambique

Russian and Chinese PMSCs and weapon exports (all four types of activities)

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • CAR
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Nigeria
  • Sudan
  • Zambia

Recent Work on Russia's Global Influence


Research Report


The RAND Corporation is renowned for its landmark studies of the Soviet government and military during the Cold War. Today, RAND research explores Russia's economy, environment, and technology sector, and its complex and changing relations with NATO, Europe, Asia, and the United States.

  • Will to Fight of Russia's Private Military Actors

    In Ukraine, Syria, and other parts of the world, private military contractors are operating on behalf of, yet are ostensibly separate from, the Russian state. How can the United States and its allies counter these adversary-employed private military actors?

  • Russian Troops Know How Little They Mean to Putin

    Over the past year, the Russian military has sustained staggering losses—over 100,000 casualties, thousands of pieces of armored equipment, and several squadrons of fighter jets and helicopters. But Russia isn't stopping. Newly mobilized Russian troops, knowing they are being used as cannon fodder, have made public appeals to be spared.

  • Will Logistics Be Russia's Undoing in Ukraine?

    Russia's experience in Ukraine one year in is an example of what happens when a nation tries to fight a war without fully considering the logistics and sustainment that go alongside such a fight. The consequences for failing to fully consider these concepts drove Russia into a prolonged conflict for which it was already ill-prepared a year ago, with increasingly dire consequences for its future.

  • When and How Will the Putin Era End?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin could extend his presidency until 2036. Whatever he decides, U.S. officials should prepare for the future succession by sending clear signals on policy redlines and studying Russian elite attitudes. The choice of a successor will fundamentally affect U.S. foreign and security policy.

  • What Provokes Putin's Russia?

    Even with an understanding of what Russia considers to be redlines, predicting its reactions is challenging. An analysis of past instances of Russian escalation—and instances when redlines were crossed but Russia did not respond—offers guidance for U.S. and NATO deterrence efforts.

  • How Capable Are Russia's Armed Forces?

    Since 2008, the Russian military has become more capable, not only of defending its territory but also of launching invasions against its neighbors. Russia's defense spending is now in decline, but NATO policymakers and defense planners should continue to monitor its military improvements.

Articles Translated from English

RAND researchers have written a variety of articles discussing the cost and effectiveness of Russian weapons systems, many of which have been translated into languages other than their original English, including (Arabic) العربية , हिन्दी (Hindi), and Melayu (Malay).

Project Sponsors

This project to explore the ways in which Russia exerts its global influence received U.S. government foreign assistance funding provided by the U.S. Department of State. The project is led by John Parachini for the RAND National Security Research Division.