Before his death in 2013, Mikhail Kalashnikov was a Russian lieutenant general and the military engineer behind the legendary AK-47. But as of Sept. 19, Kalashnikov is now a 30-foot bronze statue, brandishing a shiny replica of his ubiquitous assault rifle over the streets of central Moscow.
The looming effigy is less a tribute to Kalashnikov than to the uniquely reliable killing machine he developed, according to a Guardiandispatch from the monument unveiling. Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky declared that the AK-47 “is Russia’s cultural brand”; Russian Orthodox Church Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin declared it “a holy weapon,” a machine-made Excalibur fit for a Muscovite King Arthur. The statue’s simple platform captures the essence of Mikhail’s legacy: "I created a weapon for the defense of my fatherland.”
A monument to gun-maker Mikhail Kalashnikov at the intersection of the Sadovo-Karetnaya and Dolgorukovskaya streets.Photo via Associated Press
Not just his fatherland. The favored assault rifle of both standing armies and insurgents, from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 to the wave of jihadi terror that has swept through Europe in recent years, the AK-47 alone ends an estimated 250,000 lives each year.
The AK’s close-quarters stopping power and freakish durability have made it a fixture not just of distant battlefields, but pop culture, the favored weapon of would-be terrorists and mercenaries. To those who cut their cultural teeth on that lost decade between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the September 11th attacks, the AK is synonymous with some feisty henchmen in need of a lead sandwich.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009, in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer)
Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.
Russian President Vladimir Putin fires a fortress cannon. (Associated Press/Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia will target the U.S. with new weapons should Washington decide to deploy intermediate-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to Europe following the recent death of a Cold War-era arms control agreement, according to multiple reports.
He threatened to target not only the host countries where U.S. missiles might be stationed but also decision-making centers in the U.S.