In 2021, the supply of Russian cartridges and their components to the US in monetary terms set a record in the recent history of Russia since the early 1990s, as evidenced by foreign trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Despite the US sanctions against Russian small arms, the supply of cartridges from Russia to this country for ten months of this year broke a record and amounted to $158 million.
As specified, the previous record was set in 2016 when the Russian bullets export to the US amounted to $148 million for the whole year. To feel the difference, compare this result with the numbers reached last year – for the whole of 2020, the import of Russian cartridges to the US amounted to about $120 million. In physical terms, the export for the period of January-October 2021 exceeded 7.7 thousand tonnes compared to 5.2 thousand tonnes for the whole of last year. In 2016, the import of cartridges and their parts by weight was about 6 thousand tonnes.
To complicate the supply of Russian weapons to the US, additional American sanctions were announced on August 20 and entered into force on September 7, due to accusations against Russia of involvement in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The sanctions restrict the “permanent import” of small arms and ammunition to the US from Russia by refusing to grant new licenses to American importers for these products.
Nevertheless, according to the UN, more than 94 per cent of all Russian cartridges exported go to the US and only a little to the European Union ($2.7 million in 2020), Canada ($1.5 million), and Thailand ($0.6 million). However, American importers had an opportunity to issue import permits in the interval between the announcement of sanctions and their implementation. Such licenses are valid for two years, and imports under permits issued before the sanctions came into force can continue. This, for example, happened to the American partners of the Tula Cartridge Plant who currently have a valid license that will expire in the autumn of 2023.
In turn, the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade said that the increase in shipments to the US is associated with a significant increase in demand for cartridges in this country in the last two or three years.
“This is not related to the sanctions imposed,” the Ministry’s representative stressed.
It is also mentioned that the work on the formation of measures aimed at supporting the enterprises of the cartridge industry after the introduction of sanctions is currently ongoing.