Russia faces the risk of losing the largest market for ammunition


New US sanctions have significantly limited the ability to supply Russian cartridges to the American market. Russia is now the main supplier of bullets to the United States. Enterprises will need state support, according to the industry

Russian manufacturers of ammunition for civilian weapons may significantly reduce their presence in their largest export market – the US. The reason is additional US sanctions due to accusations against Russia of involvement in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

On August 20, the US authorities announced the introduction of a second round of sanctions against Russia under the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control Act (CBW). These sanctions took effect on 7 September. They restrict the “permanent import” of small arms and ammunition to the United States from Russia by refusing to grant new import licenses to American importers.

The sanctions are formally in effect for a year, but in fact it could be much longer – in order to lift them, the US president must assure Congress that Russia has abandoned the use of chemical weapons and will compensate Navalny.

How many cartridges Russia sells to the USA

Annual deliveries of cartridges (loaded with bullets) from Russian manufacturers to the United States exceed $ 100 million (equivalent to more than 7.2 billion rubles), follows from the public database of the US Census Bureau (which is analogous to Rosstat). In August, imports of Russian ammunition jumped to nearly $ 28 million, up from less than $ 0.7 million a month earlier, according to a recent update in US statistics. The corresponding Russian statistics are classified.

The import of cartridges from Russia to the United States for eight months of this year reached $ 114 million – almost the same as for the entire last year (about $ 118 million), follows from US customs data. The average annual indicator for the last ten full years is $ 102 million.Russia accounts for more than 21% of the total imports of weapons cartridges to the United States in 2020, this is the first place among suppliers (in second place is South Korea with an indicator half as much, in third place is the Czech Republic ).

Russian cartridges provide about 4% of the entire American market of firearms, taking into account its own production of the United States (about 9.7 billion cartridges), economist of the industry consulting company Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting Juergen Brauer told the Firearms Blog in September. According to the company, in 2020, US importers imported more than 765 million cartridges from Russia (total imports from all countries amounted to about 3.5 billion cartridges).

In the early 2000s, 70-80% of the cartridges produced in Russia were exported, reminded the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Arsenal of the Fatherland” Viktor Murakhovsky. According to him, the lion’s share of these exports went to the American market. “It cannot be said that the situation has changed dramatically by 2021. Almost all Russian manufacturers of cartridges live by export. The USA has the largest ammunition market in the world.

How do these sanctions work?

Immediately, the supply of Russian cartridges to the United States will not stop due to the sanctions. The imposed restrictions are formulated as follows: “New or already submitted, but not yet approved applications for permission to import firearms or ammunition for them from Russia <…> will be rejected.”

At the same time, American importers had the theoretical opportunity to have time to issue fresh import permits in the interval between the announcement of sanctions and their implementation, although usually the processing of the application from the importer takes from four to six weeks (according to the US Border and Customs Service).

Licenses for the importation of small arms and ammunition into the United States for civilian use (the import of such products for military purposes is generally prohibited by American law) are administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the US Department of Justice. Accordingly, the import under the already issued permits (which are valid for two years by law) can continue. Therefore, if an American company, for example, received permission to import a certain number of Russian cartridges in July 2021, the import of this amount may continue until mid-2023.

As The Firearms Blog explains, in order to obtain ATF permission, the importer fills out the so-called Form-6, in which, among other things, he declares the amount of goods that he plans to import (for example, 20 million cartridges from Russia of 7.62 mm caliber produced by a certain cartridge factory ). If the form is approved, these 20 million cartridges can be imported in any number of batches, and each of them is declared at US customs through Form-6A (which does not need approval). According to The Firearms Blog, US importers with Form-6 approved by September 7 can continue to import Russian cartridges within the remaining volumes and deadlines provided for by the permit. Estimate,