Ignoring Ukraine setbacks, Putin touts ‘superior’ Russian arms exports

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  • Putin insists Russian technology is years ahead of rivals
  • Ukraine performance undermines bragging, military analysts say India and China top list of Russian arms buyers

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Monday Russia was ready to sell advanced weapons to allies around the world and cooperate on the development of military technology, nearly six months after the start of the war. war in Ukraine, during which his army fared worse than expected.

With his forces pushed back from Ukraine’s two largest cities and advancing slowly at great expense into the eastern provinces, the war has so far proved an unconvincing showcase for the Russian arms industry. Read more

But Putin, addressing an arms exhibition outside Moscow, insisted Russian weaponry was years ahead of the competition.

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Russia cherished its close ties with Latin America, Asia and Africa and stood ready to provide its allies with a full range of weapons ranging from small arms, armored vehicles, artillery, aircraft fighters and drones, he said. “Nearly all have been used more than once in actual combat operations.”

He said Russia’s offer included high-precision weapons and robotics. “Many of them are years or even decades ahead of their foreign counterparts, and in terms of tactical and technical characteristics they are significantly superior to them.”

Russia ranks second only to the United States with arms sales of around $15 billion a year, almost a fifth of the global export market. From 2017 to 2021, 73% of those sales went to just four countries – India, China, Egypt and Algeria – according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

“BAD ADVERTISING”

Western military analysts have said Russia’s struggles against a much smaller adversary in Ukraine could undermine Putin’s sell-out rhetoric.

“With the collapse of economic relations with the West, Russia is even more dependent on the arms trade than it was before, so it is not surprising that Putin is so eager to promote them to as many non-Western clients as possible,” said Ruth Deyermond, senior lecturer in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

“The big problem for him is that Russia’s war against Ukraine was a disaster for Russian military credibility – their performance was very bad publicity for their weapons.”

Asked about the worst-performing Russian weapons systems in Ukraine, retired US General Ben Hodges cited assessments by US defense officials that Russia suffered failure rates of up to 60% for some of its precision-guided missiles.

Western sanctions on Russia have also raised questions about its ability to source components and maintain the weapons it sells, added Hodges, a former commander of US Army Forces Europe.

“As a potential buyer, I would be very concerned about the quality of the equipment and the ability of Russian Federation industry to maintain it,” he said.

Ukraine has made effective use of US-supplied weapons, in particular the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), and Russia has taken a series of major hits. These include explosions at an air base on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia last week that destroyed at least eight planes on the ground, satellite images show.

Nonetheless, Putin said Russia’s forces and its proxies in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine were fulfilling all their tasks.

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

Russia calls the invasion that began on February 24 a “special military operation” to demilitarize its smaller neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and its allies accuse Moscow of waging an unprovoked war to seize territory.

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Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Grant McCool

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Marc Trevelian

Thomson Reuters

Editor-in-chief on Russia and the CIS. Has worked as a journalist on 7 continents and has reported in over 40 countries, with assignments in London, Wellington, Brussels, Warsaw, Moscow and Berlin. Covered the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Security correspondent from 2003 to 2008. Speaks French, Russian and German (rusty) and Polish.

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