Saudi Arabia: Russian, Ukrainian weapons ‘compete’ for attention at military weapons defense exhibition

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As the tragic reality of the war unfolds in Eastern Europe, visitors to a defense weapons exhibition in Saudi Arabia witnessed the surreal spectacle of seeing the latest Ukrainian and Russian military equipment competing for attention in flawless exhibition spaces.

For Maxim Potimkov, Ukraine’s state-owned arms exporter and importer, standing alone among his country’s tanks, sales were the last thing on his mind.

“I came for this show because there has to be someone here and we have so much equipment here,” he told Reuters. “More than 50 people from Ukraine were expected.”

Potimkov, from Kyiv, was traveling to Ukraine from a trade fair in the United Arab Emirates when Russia launched its invasion last week and had to cancel its plans. Now back in the Middle East, it has a kiosk to promote Ukraine’s Kozark 7 and Kozark 2M tactical tanks and drone defense systems.

Meanwhile, in an adjoining room, Russian weapons manufacturers were showcasing Moscow equipment, including anti-aircraft weapons and air defense systems. Representatives of the Russian industry, when approached by Reuters, refused to discuss the economic sanctions imposed by the West in response to the war.

Hundreds of visitors to the Riyadh defense equipment fair, including regional governors, military and corporate officials, saw this power show from nations around the world, even as residents of the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol experience the horrific power of weapons systems.

Efforts to evacuate people from Mariupol – which has endured days of Russian bombing trapping people without heating, electricity and water – have failed for the second day in a row today following the collapse of a ceasefire plan.

Many arms-producing states compete for influence and contracts from wealthy Gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have moved to diversify their defense partners and want to develop their own industries.

Saudi Arabia is leading a military alliance, including the United Arab Emirates, and has been militarily involved in Yemen for seven years fighting the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi movement in Yemen.

Source: Capital

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