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Research Report

Beyond the Kalashnikov:: Small Arms Production, Exports, and Stockpiles in the Russian Federation

Maxim Pyadushkin
Maria Haug
Anna Matveeva
Copyright Date: Aug. 1, 2003
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 50

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. i-ii)
  2. (pp. iii-iii)
  3. (pp. iv-iv)
  4. (pp. vi-vi)
  5. (pp. vi-vi)
  6. (pp. vii-viii)
  7. (pp. 1-2)

    The Kalashnikov, or AK-47, is undoubtedly the best-known assault rifle in the world.¹ For nearly 50 years, the AK-47 and its derivatives were the mainstay of the Soviet small arms industry. It is the weapon that first springs to mind when one thinks about Russian-made small arms. The basic AK-47, however, has not been produced in the Russian Federation for a number of years. Modern derivatives of the original weapon (the AK-101 to 105 series) have long since taken its place.

    The impact of the Kalashnikov remains enormous and to this day extends well beyond the borders of the Russian...

  8. (pp. 3-18)

    The collapse of the Soviet Union and the general economic crisis that followed, adversely affected the defence industry in the newly constituted Russian Federation (Russia). Russia inherited most of the Soviet production facilities for SALW, as well as those for cartridges and ammunition. At the same time, the decline in military spending and the reduction of the Russian armed forces resulted in cuts in government orders for such weapons. In the 1990s, the Russian armed forces could barely afford to acquire new armaments, because up to 70 per cent of spending assigned for defence was channelled to the maintenance of...

  9. (pp. 19-28)

    The 1998 federal law On the Russian Federation’s Military-Technical Co-operation with Foreign States is the legal foundation for all Russian arms exports. The law established the principles of government policy on arms exports and the legal foundations for the operations of government agencies in this sphere. It also named the parties to military-technical co-operation (MTC) and outlined their rights.

    Under the law, the government has a monopoly right to trade in armaments and military hardware. This is guaranteed by a system of permits for export-import transactions of military goods. It includes the issue of licences for foreign trade of military-purpose...

  10. (pp. 29-31)

    It is quite difficult to estimate the stockpiles of small arms in Russia. Although the Defence Ministry has made some assessments of the numbers of SALW in the arsenals of the armed forces, these figures are secret.69 Therefore, one can make only rough estimates of such stockpiles, relying on the current size of the Russian Army and mobilization plans.

    The main arsenals of small arms were accumulated during the Soviet era, when military strategists prepared for a large-scale conflict comparable to World War II. At the end of World War II, the Soviet Army had about 11.3 million personnel (Odin,...

  11. (pp. 32-34)

    Official Ministry of Interior records state that over four million small arms, including combat and hunting weapons, are registered in civilian possession in Russia (ITAR-TASS, 31 January 2002). Various sources claim that between 300,000 (Izvestiya, 2002) and 1.5 million (Vladova, 1999, p. A2) are in illegal possession. The types of illegally held arms differ from region to region. For instance, in northern regions, most illegally-held weapons are hunting guns, while in central Russia and the North Caucasus, combat weapons are often held illegally (Shklyar, 2001). This is the typical pattern of illegal ownership of small arms in Russia, since in...

  12. (pp. 35-35)

    This study has analyzed various aspects of the small arms issue in the Russian Federation. This issue in Russia is unique for a number of reasons—it is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of SALW; it is the historic origin of the most successful assault rifle in the world (the Kalashnikov); and it is a country with regions of civil unrest (e.g. Chechnya) where illegally-held small arms still play a pivotal role.

    The gun that made Russian small arms famous around the world, the Kalashnikov AK-47, is no longer produced in Russia in its original design, although...

  13. (pp. 36-37)
  14. (pp. 38-40)
  15. (pp. 41-41)