While failing to secure its goals despite more than a year of heavy fighting, Russia might have lost upward of 150,000 soldiers, and it has seen countless main battle tanks and aircraft destroyed.
Beyond its losses on the battlefield, Moscow has probably also lost some customers — Russia’s modern military equipment has failed to live up to the hype that accompanied it before the invasion.
The same holds true for air defense systems and advanced hypersonic missiles — Russian systems have failed to deliver.
Kalashnikov Stands Out
Virtually everything Russia has deployed to Ukraine has underperformed, but small arms are one notable exception.
This fact was noted by Alan Lusknikov, president of the Russia-based Kalashnikov Concern, at the recent IDEX 2023 International Defence Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi.
There, at a dedicated pavilion, Russian military-industrial complex companies presented more than 200 live examples of weapons, military vehicles, ammunition, and other hardware.
The war in Ukraine has apparently shown interested buyers that the small arms made by the Kalashnikov Concern meet the demands of the modern battlefield.
The vote of confidence was made clear by the dozens of potential international buyers who came to see the Concern’s offerings, which ranged from combat and civilian firearms to solutions for dynamic protection, as well as special operations gear, compact drones, and even man-portable missile launchers.
“The main conclusion that we’ve drawn from this expo: interest in our products is defined neither by the size of our booth nor by its location at the venue, but by the experience of our weapons being used in combat – specifically, use not in a blitz operation, but in large-scale, full-fledged combat action,” explained Lusknikov, according to a report from Tass. “And, from this standpoint, the concern’s products, just like all Russian weapons, currently enjoy an obvious competitive advantage.”
The company now known as the Kalashnikov Concern was founded not by Mikhail Kalashnikov – the reputed inventor of the AK-47 – but by Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who introduced it in 1807 as the state’s military arsenal.
Until 2013, it was actually known as the Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant.
In recent years, it has supplied about 95% of all small arms in Russia and exported to 27 other countries.
In addition to the Kalashnikov line of assault rifles, including the AK-12 and AK-15, that are manufactured for the Russian Army, the company also produces its line of Saiga-12 shotguns, as well as sporting rifles, for the civilian market.
A number of famous Russian athletes have used the company’s biathlon rifle at sporting events around the world.
Though Russia’s tanks, military aircraft, and other large platforms leave much to be desired, when it comes to small arms, Kalashnikov continues to deliver.
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.