LONDON (Dispatches) -- 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.
The Kremlin leader, addressing an arms show outside Moscow, insisted Russian weaponry was years ahead of the competition.
Russia cherished 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 heavily relied on its technology in the past.
They instead try to promote what they characterize as Ukraine’s effective use of U.S.-supplied weaponry, especially HIMARS advanced rocket systems, citing devastation of an airbase in the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula last week.
Nevertheless, Putin said the forces of Russia and their allies 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 conflict 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.”
On Monday, Ukrainian forces reported heavy Russian shelling and attempts to advance on several towns in the eastern region of Donetsk that has become a key focus of the near six-month-old war, but claimed they had repelled many of the attacks.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces also reported Russian shelling of over a dozen towns on the southern front - particularly the Kherson region, mainly held by Russian forces but where Ukrainian troops are steadily retaking territory.
Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, said on Monday the situation was complicated but under control. “The enemy doesn’t dare advance by land, but fires at the territories in the rear with artillery and rockets,” she told a news briefing.
Asked about Ukraine’s shelling on Sunday of the Antonivskyi Bridge in the Kherson region, she said Ukrainian forces were continuing to fire on routes used by the Russians for supplies.
“Over the past week, we have destroyed more than 10 warehouses. The damage we inflicted makes it impossible to move heavy equipment. There are recorded facts that after we inflicted defeats on command posts, their commanding staff moved to the left bank (of the Dnipro river),” she said.
Much attention has been focused on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine amid fears of a catastrophe over renewed shelling in recent days that Russia and Ukraine blame on each other.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone around Zaporizhzhia.
The Zaporizhzhia plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which seeks access to the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear fighting might damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or reactors. A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry said on Monday it would do all it could to allow IAEA specialists to visit the plant.
“In close cooperation with the agency and its leadership, we will do everything necessary for the IAEA specialists to be at the station and give a truthful assessment of the destructive actions of the Ukrainian side,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Ukraine, where parliament on Monday extended martial law for a further three months, has said for weeks it is planning a counteroffensive to recapture Zaporizhzhia and neighboring Kherson province, the largest part of the territory Russia seized after its Feb. 24 operation and still holds.
The conflict has pushed Moscow-Washington relations to a low point, with Russia warning it may sever them.