Sunday, April 7, 2024

Illegal Arms Sales, Possession and Use in Russia Up Dramatically Since Start of Putin’s Expanded War in Ukraine, Experts Say

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 2 – The Russian government’s assertion that the terrorists who attacked the Crocus City Hall venue had illegally obtained the Russian guns they used has attracted new attention to the issue of just how many guns are in private hands illegally and how much that number may have increased in the last several years.

            In 2022, the Russian interior ministry said that there were between five million and 20 million guns, prohibited by Russian law, in private hands. Now experts say, as a result of guns flooding back from the war in Ukraine, the number is far more than that upper limit (

            In the same year, Moscow experts say, the number of crimes in Russia carried out with illegally owned guns rose by a third from the year before, according to official data. In 2023, this figure fell; but experts believe that was the result of orders from above not to call attention to just how bad things have become.

            Whenever Russians have been taking part in a war, the number of guns arriving back into Russia illegally has skyrocketed. That happened after World War II, after the Chechen wars, and after Syria. Now, this flow has increased still further because of the use of PMCs and other forces less well controlled by Moscow.

            Adding to that flow are underground arms factories that the FSB has tried to stamp out with relatively little success, guns coming in from China and other countries, and the involvement of the military, the FSB and the interior ministry in such sales, with many officers making fortunes by illegally diverting guns.

            According to one special services officer speaking on condition of anonymity, the scale of the problem is reflected in this fact: “There is now at a minimum one gun, often unregistered, in each family living in Siberian villages and also in the Far North.” And Russians elsewhere who want guns prohibited by the government can easily do so.

            One measure of just how many such guns are in circulation and thus how easy it is for Russians to get them is that over the last two years, the price of such banned guns has fallen by 90 percent, putting weapons that were beyond the reach of most people now guns that they can easily afford.

            As a result, he and other experts say, terrorists and criminals now have no problems getting the guns they want. And some of them add that the only hope is to legalize guns so that more citizens will be armed and terrorists and criminals will have to think twice before using guns lest they be killed by armed citizens.


No comments:

Post a Comment