Just So You Know

Obama: Russia ‘Doesn’t Make Anything’ (Except for These Weapons He Buys)

We don’t think the president really meant it when he said the Russians don’t make anything. But we still came up with a few items—including those Mi-17 helicopters the Pentagon bought.


During an interview this month with The Economist, President Obama made what seemed like an offhanded comment when asked about recent tensions with the Russian government over Ukraine and the failure of his administration’s “reset.”

“Russia doesn’t make anything,” the president said. “Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity…And so we have to respond with resolve in what are effectively regional challenges that Russia presents.”

That comment is in line with previous Obama statements seeking to diminish the threat that Russia poses to the United States. “Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors—not out of strength but out of weakness,” he said at a March press conference.

Of course, the president wasn’t really saying the Russians make and export nothing; that’s obviously not true, though Russia’s manufacturing sector isn’t all that competitive internationally and is generally geared toward domestic consumption.

But if only for the sake of adding to our general knowledge, here are a few things Russia does make and export:

*Semi-finished iron*Diamonds*Chemical fertilizers*Sawn wood*Copper wire*Radioactive chemicals

Here’s something else Russia makes that Obama should be aware of: the dozens of Russian Mi-17 helicopters that the Pentagon bought for Afghanistan’s security forces, at a price of more than $1 billion.

That military rotorcraft definitely falls under the category of Russia making something.