Ignoring setbacks in Ukraine, Putin flaunts Russian weapon prowess

LONDON (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday Moscow was ready to sell advanced weapons to allies worldwide and cooperate in developing military technology, nearly six months after the Ukraine war in which his military fared worse than expected.

With the Russian leader’s forces defeated from Ukraine’s two largest cities and slow progress, at great cost, into the east of the country, the war has yet to prove a convincing show for the Russian arms industry.

But the Kremlin leader, in a speech to an arms show outside Moscow, insisted that Russian weapons are years ahead of the competition.

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He said that Russia cherishes its strong relations with Latin America, Asia and Africa, “and is ready to provide partners and allies with the latest types of weapons – from small arms to armored vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and drones.”

“Almost all of them have been used more than once in real combat operations.”

He said that Russia could offer new models and systems – “We are talking about high-precision weapons and robots, combat systems based on new physical principles.

“Many of them are years, or perhaps decades ahead of their foreign counterparts, and in terms of tactical and technical characteristics they are significantly superior to them.”

Western military analysts have pointed out that what they describe as the poor performance of Russian forces and weapons in Ukraine may make Moscow’s arms exports less attractive to potential buyers, such as India, which has relied heavily on its technology in the past.

Ukraine has made effective use of weapons provided by the United States, especially advanced HIMARS missile systems, and Russia has suffered a series of major blows, including the destruction of an air base in Crimea that Russia annexed last week.

However, Putin said that Russian forces and their proxies in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine are fulfilling all their tasks.

“Step by step they are liberating the land of Donbass,” he said.

The speech formed part of a pattern of statements since the invasion on February 24, in which Putin and Sergey Lavrov, his foreign minister, spoke of the possibility of Russia collaborating with allies such as China, India, Iran and others to build a new international. It is no longer dominated by the United States.

“I want to emphasize that Russia supports the broadest comprehensive military-technical cooperation for development. Today, in conditions of trust in the emerging multipolar world, this is especially important,” Putin said.

“We highly appreciate the fact that our country has many like-minded allies and partners on different continents. These are countries that are not subject to the so-called hegemon, and their leaders show a true masculine character and do not bow.”

Mark Trevelyan reports. Editing by Andrew Osborne

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