Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrive to attend the opening of the Army 2022 International Military and Technical Forum in Moscow on Monday. AP
Speaking at the opening of an annual arms show outside Moscow that caters to foreign customers, Putin said that Russia’s arms exports play an important role in the development of a "multipolar word,” the term used by the Kremlin to describe its efforts to offset what it perceives as US global domination.
Putin hailed the Russian military’s action in Ukraine, which has triggered massive Western sanctions, and thanked Moscow’s allies for their support.
"We highly appreciate that we have many allies, partners and people who share our thinking on various continents,” he said.
Russia cherished its strong ties with Latin America, Asia and Africa and was ready to supply allies there with a full gamut of weapons from small arms to armoured vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and drones, he said. "Almost all of them have been used more than once in real combat operations."
He said Russia's offer included high-precision weapons and robotics. "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."
Russia ranks second only to the United States with arms sales of around $15 billion a year, nearly a fifth of the global export market. From 2017-2021, 73% of those sales went to just four countries - India, China, Egypt and Algeria - according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Western military analysts said Russia's struggles against a much smaller adversary in Ukraine could undermine Putin's sales pitch.
"With the collapse of economic relations with the West, Russia is even more dependent on the arms trade than it was before, so it’s not surprising that Putin is so keen to promote them to as many non-Western customers as he can," 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 has been a disaster for Russian military credibility - their performance has been a very poor advertisement for their weapons."
Asked which Russian weapons systems had performed worst in Ukraine, retired US General Ben Hodges cited assessments by US defence officials that Russia was suffering failure rates as high as 60% for some of its precision-guided missiles.
Western sanctions imposed against Russia also raised questions about its ability to source components and provide maintenance for the weapons it sells, added Hodges, a former commander of US army forces in Europe.
"I'd be very concerned as a prospective buyer about the quality of the equipment and the ability of the Russian Federation industry to sustain it," he said.Reuters
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