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Russia displays latest weapons

Russia displays latest weapons
Russian heavy flamethrower system TOS-1 fires during the International Military Technical Forum Army-2018 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Tuesday. (AP)
Moscow, Aug 22 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 8/22/2018 12:28:25 PM IST

As Russia gears up for its biggest war games event in 40 years, the country is keen to show off its new toys, AP reported.

The country kicked off its Army 2018 military expo this week just weeks before it’s scheduled to conduct the Vostok-2018 war games in a show of force which will include China and Mongolia.

The expo, held at a shooting range just outside of Moscow, featured Russia’s latest fighter jet, the Su-57, the Kinzhal hypersonic weapon and the Armata battle tank among other new weapons. It also featured robotic systems.

According to reports in the Russian media, the expo featured an underwater machine gun-toting manned vehicle as well as a military exoskeleton for soldiers carrying heavy gear and weapons. Journalists were told the exoskeleton made of carbon fibre, helps facilitate the movement of fighters with loads of up to 50kg and has already been tested in real combat operations.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu emphasised that most new weapons at the show have proven their worth during the Syrian campaign.

“They demonstrate the latest achievements of our industries and science,” he said, reported the Associated Press.

Displays of the various weapon systems at a military show that goes all week are aimed at attracting more foreign customers.

President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the Army 2018 show that it reflects the “huge potential” of Russian military industries and will serve as a platform for military co-operation with other countries.

The expo comes just weeks ahead of a major military exercise to be carried out by Russian troops on the country’s eastern fringe.

The nation says it will be the largest mobilisation of military troops and equipment since the peak of the Cold War in 1981.

The war games, dubbed Vostok-2018 (East-2018), will be conducted between September 11 and 15, according to a statement released by the Chinese Defense Ministry confirming its involvement. Some 3200 Chinese troops, along with 30 aircraft and 900 vehicles, will also be taking part.

“This will be a series of related special exercises and a practical rally of hostilities that will be conducted in the territory of the two military districts,” Russian Lieutenant-General Ivan Buvaltsev said. The upcoming games would be “unprecedented in scale, both in terms of area of operations and numbers of military command structure, troops and forces involved,” he said.

While Russia is keen to show of its physical military capabilities, the country has been accused of ramping up its cyber attacks.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said it had uncovered new Russian hacking efforts targeting US political groups ahead of the country’s midterm elections.

The company said a group tied to the Russian Government created fake websites appearing to spoof two American conservative organisations: the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. Three other fake sites were designed to look as if they belonged to the US Senate. It’s likely the network of fake sites are used for phishing attacks, designed to trick victims into installing malicious software.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Microsoft’s report reflects a “witch hunt” in the US.

The revelation of new hacking efforts comes just weeks after a similar Microsoft discovery led Missouri senator Claire McCaskill, who is running for re-election, to reveal that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her Senate computer network.

Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said he thought the Microsoft findings as presented were nothing particularly extraordinary.

“This looks like run-of-the-mill espionage to me, something that happens all the time,” he told the Associated Press. Think tanks in rival nations are generally fair game for cyber spies, including for US and other Western intelligence agencies, he said.

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