Russian army vehicle
A pro-Russian man (not seen) holds a Russian flag behind an armed servicemen on top of a Russian army vehicle outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of BalaclavaReuters

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has called on the country to boost its arms exports in order to upgrade the industry and create quality jobs, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Moscow is currently the world's leading arms exporter, with total foreign sales amounting to $15.7bn in 2013.

"It is important to... strengthen Russia's presence on global arms markets," Putin told a meeting on military cooperation with foreign states, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

"Beyond doubt, this should help national defence industries to plan for an expansion and update of production, and create new quality jobs," he said, adding that arms exports for the first half of the year had hit $5.6bn.

Among Russia's clients is the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has waged a three year war against rebels across Syria. Despite widespread global condemnation over Assad's use of indiscriminate deadly force against civilians, Russia has continued to supply Damascus with sophisticated missiles systems and other weapons of war.

China, India and Algeria are among Russia's other top clients, accounting for nearly 40% of Russia's arms exports from 2009-2013.

Foreign investors have been wary of Russia's geopolitical ambitions, following its annexation of Crimea in March that prompted the United States and the European Union to impose a raft of sanctions against individuals and businesses with close ties to the Kremlin.

Capital flight gained pace as the Ukraine crisis endured, with Russia's economy minister saying that net capital outflows may reach $80bn in the first half of the year, according to Interfax news agency.