During that period, South Korea sent warships to the Philippines and Thailand, submarines to Indonesia, and fighter and training aircraft to the Philippines and Thailand. Russia also lost some potential deals. Indonesia canceled an order for 11 Russian fighter jets last year, and instead bought American and French planes.
For many Southeast Asian countries, the United States is an increasingly attractive arms supplier because it links arms purchases to military or diplomatic support against China, Mr. Wezeman said. He added that many European arms suppliers have shown a willingness to help countries in the region develop their own arms industries and capabilities, in some cases through technology transfer.
Another reason to avoid buying Russian weapons is to signal a neutral stance on the invasion of Ukraine, said John Parachini, the RAND Corporation’s chief defense researcher.
“Despite Russia’s potentially aggressive efforts to market its arms exports in Southeast Asia, it will find fewer customers,” he said.
One exception may be Myanmar, where the ruling military junta, burdened with US sanctions limiting its arms purchases, has signaled its willingness to sign more arms deals with Russia. However, there are questions about whether the Kremlin has the supplies to manufacture it.
Vietnam, Russia’s largest arms customer in Southeast Asia, may be. Because this country’s military arsenal was built around Soviet and Russian weapons for decades, adding weapons from new suppliers could lead to compatibility issues, said Ridwan Rahmat, a principal defense analyst at Guinness, based in Singapore.
At the same time, he added, Vietnam appears to be “slowly shifting its orbit from Russian systems to a mix that includes NATO-compatible systems, although this will take decades.”