ASTANA -- Kazakhstan in early June showed its military might and its commitment to defending itself.
The country's capital June 2-5 hosted the bi-ennial KADEX arms show.
More than 3,000 military officers and dignitaries from various countries attended the exhibition, curious about the armaments that 350 defence contractors from around the world -- including 102 Kazakhstani firms -- had to offer. Interested participants signed contracts for arms purchases or for co-operation in manufacturing.
"Traditionally, the greatest demand from our foreign partners is for complexes for managing forces and weapons, systems for defence against high-precision weapons, [etc.]," Defence Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov said in a welcoming speech posted on the KADEX website.
Kazakhstani firms are involved
Kazakhstan's firms presented their own line-ups of military hardware, demonstrating the country's readiness to defend itself.
The country, though presently free of threats of invasion, was faced with a spree of terrorist attacks in Aktobe June 5 that left seven citizens dead. Several hundred radicalised Kazakhstanis have gone to Syria and Iraq since 2011 to join the militants. Militant social media postings have included vows to overthrow the Kazakhstani government and appeals to other Kazakhstanis to join the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).
Recognising its responsibility for defending itself, Kazakhstan has built up its own defence industry since the 1991 Soviet break-up and has cultivated ties with foreign defence contractors, like the hundreds that exhibited their products at KADEX.
The Kazakhstani vendors included the Petropavlovsk Plant of Heavy Machine Building (PZTM), Kazakhstan ASELSAN Engineering of Astana, and Kaztec of Astana.
"This is the fourth time we've participated in KADEX," Abiyur Alshimbayev, a deputy director of Kazakhstan ASELSAN Engineering, told Central Asia Online. "We're exhibiting our whole line ... We're also presenting promising new products."
Helicopters built by the Astana-based Kazakhstani-French enterprise Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering were on display as well.
The foreign vendors came from Canada, Ukraine, France and other countries.
Visitors were impressed
Not every visitor was a "big shot" in military matters.
"We visited it in 2014 and are here again," Valerii Kiselev, an Astana resident, told Central Asia Online. "I brought my sons with me."
"Kazakhstan ... holds an international arms show every other year," he noted. "I guess that's the reality of today's world."
Besides the arms exhibition, other events showcased co-operation in military matters. A two-day-long seminar in Astana June 3 and 4, which was part of KADEX, covered problems and prospects of weapons development in the 21st century.
Participants included "representatives of Kazakhstani and foreign government agencies and companies concerned with weapons matters", the Defence Ministry press office told Central Asia Online.