Russia is selling weapons ranging from Kalashnikovs to missile systems at a biennial arms show in the United Arab Emirates — even as Russia faces Western sanctions over its war on Ukraine.
The pitch at the International Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, underscores how the Gulf Arab Federation seeks to embrace Moscow while balancing ties with the West.
Russian money continues to pour into Dubai’s real estate market as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine approaches on Friday.
Daily flights between Emirates and Moscow continued as the war wore on, providing a rare lifeline for those fleeing conscription and the Russian elite.
The U.S. Treasury Department has already raised concerns about the amount of Russian cash flowing into countries on the Arabian Peninsula.
Arms shows typically see the UAE host people who might be seen as problematic in the West. Former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir took part in the 2017 edition, while Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov, deeply embroiled in the Ukraine war, was in 2019 and 2021. years participated.
This year’s event has attracted Libya’s Khalifa Hifter, the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army commander who faces a U.S. lawsuit alleging he orchestrated indiscriminate attacks on civilians and tortured and killed political opponents.
While there was no direct acknowledgment at this year’s show, Russia’s influence on the war in Ukraine was evident throughout Monday’s show.
In order to reach the Russian exhibition tents, fairgoers had to leave the huge National Exhibition Center and walk across the outdoor area along a sky bridge.
Russian officials prevented Associated Press reporters from entering their tent as the incident unfolded, initially without explanation. About an hour later, an Associated Press reporter saw Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov emerge from the tent.
He is sanctioned by the US and UK, and London says he was “responsible for overseeing the Russian arms industry and equipping mobilized troops” in the war against Ukraine. He described the ongoing war as an advertisement for Russian weapons.
“Any military action is further accompanied by interest in those products and weapons that are needed in a particular military conflict,” he said, according to TASS news agency. — the interest is high.
“Every deal is closely scrutinized by our Western colleagues – who try to create barriers; we secure such deals so that they are as efficient as possible and carried out privately.”
Emirati officials have not directly acknowledged Mr. Manturov’s existence.
Inside the Russian tent, a video screen announced the power of Moscow’s surface-to-air missile systems, like those used to attack Ukrainian cities. A salesman demonstrates a Kalashnikov assault rifle to the UAE army and shows off other mock-up missiles.
Just outside the tent, Russian Helicopters displayed several civilian aircraft, flanked by attractive young women in silver flying caps.
UAE leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was not present at the opening ceremony, which was attended by his brother Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan But a Russian magazine at the arms fair printed an English-language version with photos of Sheikh Mohammed smiling and shaking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand during an earlier visit to Moscow.
In contrast, a giant armed drone built by Baikal sits next to the Russians’ tent. The Turkish company’s Bayraktar drone played such a pivotal role in Kiev’s campaign against Russia that there’s even a Ukrainian song about the craft.