Russian Soldiers Have A Steady Supply Of US-Made Sniper Ammo Despite Sanctions

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Russian weapons companies are supplying soldiers with U.S.-made ammunition for Russian soldiers to use in the war against Ukraine, despite a raft of sanctions designed to cut Moscow off from Western supply chains, according to Politico.

The two Russian firms, Tetis and Promtekhnologiya, the latter which manufactures the Orsis T-5000 sniper rifle Russian soldiers are carrying into battle, have acquired hundreds of thousands of rounds of .388 caliber ammunition made by an American company called Hornady, Politico reported, citing customs filings. Documents showed at least three imports occurred after Russia invaded Ukraine, highlighting the difficulties of enforcing sanctions and export controls intended to prevent Russian defense firms from procuring U.S. weapons technology.

Promtekhonologiya, which is sanctioned by the U.S., filed a “declaration of conformity” dated Aug. 12, 2022, announcing plans to buy 102,200 Hornady lead bullets to fill “hunting cartridges” for use in “civilian weapons with a rifled barrel,” according to Politico. The .338 caliber Lapua Magnum bullets weighing 285 grains specified in the declaration match a product available from Hornady, the website shows.

A second filing reported a batch of “uncapped cartridge cases for assembling civilian firearms cartridges” specified for the same .388 Lapua Magnum rounds, according to Politico. (RELATED: First Chinese Part Found In Drone Russia Used To Attack Ukraine, Researchers Say)

But the .388 Lapua Magnum was not designed for hunting; instead, Western militaries developed the high-powered, long-range bullets in the 1980s to arm their snipers in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, according to Politico.

Hornady denied exporting any products to Russian companies when contacted by Politico.

“The instant Russia invaded Ukraine, we were done,” company CEO Steve Hornady told the outlet.

“We categorically are NOT exporting anything to Russia and have not had an export permit for Russia since 2014,” he said after being shown the evidence. “We do not support any sale of our product to any Russian son-of-a-bitch and if we can find out how they acquire, if in fact they do, we will take all steps available to stop it.”

He added that none of Hornady’s customers violated sanctions law according to his knowledge and that he contacted U.S. authorities after reviewing the documentation sent by Politico.

Tetis has also reported two batches of imports from Hornady since Russia’s invasion in February of 2022, but did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment.

Yevgeny Prighozin, who runs the Wagner private military company fighting for Russia against Ukraine, told Politico his forces had access to “a huge amount of NATO-issue ammunition left over from the Ukrainian army.”

Information about what could be sanctions evasion is available on the Russian internet, with documentation of importers, exporters and product descriptions available for interpretation by anyone with expertise in international customs classification codes, according to Politico.

“We take any allegation of sanctions violation or evasion seriously and are committed to ensuring that sanctions are fully enforced,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council told the outlet.

Russian websites selling the U.S. ammunition, as well as a host of lethal products from European Union-based suppliers and manufacturers, suggest that a thriving black market has become a significant source of weapons for the Russian military, according to Politico.

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