Ignoring Ukraine setbacks, Putin boasts of Russian weapons prowess

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow was ready to sell advanced weapons to allies globally and cooperate in developing military technology, nearly six months into the Ukraine war in which his army has performed worse than expected.

With the Russian leader’s forces beaten back from Ukraine’s two biggest cities and making slow headway, at heavy cost, in the east of the country, the war has so far not proven to be a convincing showcase for Russia’s arms industry.

But the Kremlin leader, addressing an arms show outside Moscow, insisted Russian weaponry was years ahead of the competition.

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Russia cherishes its strong ties with Latin America, Asia and Africa, “and is ready to offer partners and allies the most modern types of weapons – from small arms to armored vehicles and artillery, combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles”, he said.

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

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

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

Western military analysts have suggested that what they cast as the poor performance of Russian troops and weaponry in Ukraine could make Moscow’s arms exports less attractive to potential buyers, such as India, which have relied heavily on its technology in the past.

Ukraine has made effective use of US-supplied weaponry, especially HIMARS advanced rocket systems, and Russia has taken a series of major blows, including the devastation of an airbase in the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula last week.

Nevertheless, Putin said the forces of Russia and its proxies in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine were fulfilling all their tasks.

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

The speech formed part of a pattern of statements since the Feb. 24 invasion in which Putin and Sergei Lavrov, his foreign minister, have talked up the potential for Russia to cooperate with allies like China, India, Iran and others to build a new international order no longer dominated by the United States.

“I want to emphasize that Russia stands for the broadest comprehensive development military-technical cooperation. Today in conditions of confidence 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 the states that do not succumb to the so-called hegemon, their leaders show a real masculine character and do not bend.”

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Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Andrew Osborn

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mark Trevelyan

Thomson Reuters

Chief writer on Russia and CIS. Worked as a journalist on 7 continents and reported from 40+ countries, with postings in London, Wellington, Brussels, Warsaw, Moscow and Berlin. Covered the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Security correspondent from 2003 to 2008. Speaks French, Russian and (rusty) German and Polish.

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