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Robot dogs, prison labor, and a two-day horse race Key moments from Russia's jam-packed week of military showmanship

Source: Meduza

On August 15, Russia kicked off the week-long international military technology forum Army-2022 in Patriot Park, a military theme park in the town of Kubinka. The weapons expo coincides with Russia’s International Army Games, a two-week event in which 12 countries compete to show off their combat prowess. Meanwhile, in the Russian capital on August 16, Vladimir Putin welcomed guests to the 10th annual Moscow Conference on International Security, using the occasion to call for the restoration of “respect for international law” and expound upon the decline of the “unipolar world.” Meduza recounts notable moments from the week so far.

An oddly familiar dog and its grenade launcher

At the Army-2022 forum on Monday, the Russian company Machine Intellect showed off a model of its four-legged M-81 robot. According to the state news agency RIA Novosti, the robot is capable of targeted fire, transporting weapons, and patrolling battlefields, as well as conducting reconnaissance missions in hazardous areas and maneuvering through debris. At the display, the M-81 wore a black suit that hid everything but its eyes and had a RPG-26 rocket launcher strapped to its back. According to, the pup costs one million rubles (about $16,000) and was built using "Chinese technology." After Internet users began to suspect that the robot might be a copy of the Go1, a robot dog made by the Chinese company Unitree Robotics that has a starting price of $2,700, journalists noticed that the M-81 has the same shape and same eyes as the Chinese model. In August, the Go1 was found to have a security flaw that allows it to be immobilized remotely.

The M-81 robot dog and its grenade launcher
Korotko o politike

The reconnaissance fish

At the expo's Robot Technology Pavilion, visitors caught a glimpse of another robotic animal: a European perch. According to the newspaper Arguments and Facts, the fish can swim up to five meters (16 feet) deep, carry out reconnaissance missions, and swim on autopilot on a single charge for up to 24 hours. The robot’s body can reportedly be painted to look like a real fish or can be made completely clear.

A gilded bust of Putin made by prisoners

A stand run by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service's Chelyabinsk regional office included busts of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Lavrentiy Beria, and Vladimir Putin, all molded by Russian prisoners. According to the employee manning the stand, Russian prisoners make the busts by pouring molten metal in wooden molds. The busts reportedly cost between 12,000 rubles ($197) and 25,000 rubles ($410).

Dmitry Azarov / Kommersant / Sipa USA / Vida Press

A horse race and a topographic quadrathlon

From August 13–27, 12 countries are hosting various events for the Russian Defense Ministry's International Army Games. Overall, more than 260 teams from 35 countries are participating in the tournaments. At the start of the event, horseback riders in Mongolia took part in the Equestrian Marathon. Teams from Mongolia, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe had two days to travel 130 kilometers (over 80 miles) through water obstacles and simulated minefields. In the Meridian competition in Kazakhstan, which began on August 16, military surveyors took part in a “topographical quadrathlon” that involved piecing together maps and solving topographical puzzles. In Kaliningrad, a team from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, took part in an amphibious landing competition.

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‘A well-aimed strike’ Ukrainian forces destroy Wagner Group headquarters in Luhansk region after pro-Kremlin war reporter reveals its location

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