December 11, 2023

U.S. arms makers dominated last week’s Dubai Airshow, as Russia failed to report a single sale, with one executive claiming the country had been sidelined from the exhibition’s main pavilion.

The biennial air show, which is the largest aerospace exhibition in the Middle East, was held between November 13 and 17i, and gathered the leading manufacturers of civil and military aircraft. Russian firms including Rostec, United Aircraft Corp and Almaz-Anty, participated.

Russia’s standing as a global arms exporter has been diminished by Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ongoing war in Ukraine, but exports had been declining for a few years prior to the conflict.

Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows that Russia’s share of global arms exports fell from 22 percent from 2013-17 to 16 percent from 2018-22.

Russian Air Force aerobatic team
Russian Air Force aerobatic team the “Russian Knights” perform during the 2023 Dubai Airshow on November 13, 2023. U.S. arms makers dominated last week’s airshow as Russia failed to register a single sale.

Russian officials brought with them to the exhibition 250 samples of weapons and equipment, but its state aerospace and defense company Rosoboronexport did not secure a single contract during the event, The Moscow Times reported.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry via email for comment.

A Russian arms industry executive, who declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters that they believed Russian companies were deliberately sidelined from the main exhibition area, where firms such as U.S. Lockheed Martin, American aerospace giant Boeing and French rival Airbus were present.

“We have been put a bit away, outside the main pavilion,” the source said.

Boeing secured 295 aircraft orders by the end of the exhibition, while Airbus finished with 86 orders.

The head of Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, on the first day of the Dubai Airshow urged potential buyers to look past the 2018 sanctions that were imposed on the state corporation, which have created problems with logistics and payments.

“We have been working without (international financial transaction service) SWIFT, without the dollar and without the euro for a long time,” Mikheev said, adding that the corporation has developed solutions that have solved “all logistical and financial problems.”

Vladimir Artyakov, deputy general director of Russia’s defense conglomerate Rostec, was cited by state-run news agency Tass as saying that Russian weapons “have long been recognized as one of the best in the world.”

“The experience of their use in real combat operations supports this high status. The best advertising for domestic weapons and military equipment today is done not with the help of advertising brochures, but on the battlefield,” he said.

Artyakov said that Western sanctions against Moscow meant that a number of nations have stopped importing Russian weapons.

“At the same time, we are establishing military-technical cooperation with new countries that see how effectively Russian weapons are used in real conditions,” he said.

“Today Russia is actively working with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, Latin America and the CIS. The Middle Eastern market is important for us; a large number of joint civilian and defense projects are being implemented here,” Artyakov added.

“Countries in the region are often among the first to acquire the latest Russian weapons and military equipment.”

Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via