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The war in Ukraine According to the media, the Kalashnikov concern has circumvented sanctions

Rosjanie potrzebowali materiałów do produkcji broni (fot. Shutterstock/Viacheslav Rubel)

According to emails stolen from Kalashnikovs alarming Anonymous, Russian factories can buy tools to produce weapons from Germany’s Guehring despite ongoing sanctions, according to the ZDF station portal, which found the documents on Tuesday. . An arms company from Belgium also held tender talks with the Russians.

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Kalashnikov assault rifles are among the most widely used weapons in the world. According to its own statements, the Kalashnikov group produces 95 percent. All Russian small arms are a major resource for the Russian Armed Forces. That is why (Kalashnikov – editor’s note) is on the EU sanctions lists since the occupation of Crimea in 2014. ZDF states that due to the war in Ukraine, almost any cooperation with this company is now prohibited.

In early April 2022, unknown hackers published the correspondence of the Russian armed group from the summer of 2021 to the end of March 2022, when the war in Ukraine was already underway. According to ZDF’s assessment of these documents, Kalashnikov used a network of partner companies and other “covers” to obtain the necessary materials and tools, despite Western sanctions. “The effects also led to Belgium and to a German company,” ZDF wrote.

The leaked emails came from the Lipetsk Mechanical Works (LMZ), located 350 kilometers south of Moscow. The plant produces, among other things, tracked vehicles for anti-aircraft missile launchers.

Unlike the Kalashnikov, the LMZ is not included in the EU sanctions list. The ZDF website wrote: “It seems that Kalashnikov tried to use this fact to purchase an ammunition factory abroad.” In November 2021, Kalashnikov, via LMZ, sent orders to munitions factories in France, Italy, Belgium and Turkey for the evaluation of a fully automated munitions production plant. And LMZ justified in its offer that it “plans to increase the production of ammunition by 30 million pieces per year.”

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The Belgian company responds to the inquiries of Russian factories

The Belgian arms company New Lachaussee from Herstal responded to the LMZ letter at that time. The company that requested ZDF confirmed that it had received an inquiry from LMZ but rejected it due to sanctions.

According to the disclosed documents, in December 2021, the Belgian and Russian companies exchanged correspondence. The Belgians submitted to LMZ several documents (cost estimate, technical drawings, price list), but argue that “no formal binding offer was made”.

Even sending in a cost estimate can legally make a difference, according to attorney and sanctions expert Victor Winkler. – It is wrong to say that failure to deliver the order does not result in a breach of sanctions. On the contrary: if a cost estimate is issued, I consider it very doubtful from the point of view of criminal law – emphasizes Winkler.

On December 3, 2021, Kalashnikov sent a list to LMZ and other partners detailing the demand for the purchase of production tools. The list includes, among other things, tools for metalworking from the German manufacturer – the Guehring company. The Kalashnikov group was already using Guehring’s tools in 2020 and 2021, and in 2022 it was planned to purchase equipment from Germany for about 1 million euros.

In response to the question, ZDF Göring confirmed strict adherence to “all economic sanctions imposed on Russian companies by the European Union and the United States.” However, according to the disclosed documents, at least as of November 2021, Kalashnikov acquired tools from international manufacturers thanks to LMZ and other partner companies that are not covered by the sanctions. One of them was the Russian wholesaler PKF-Technology, which has been an authorized business partner for many years, including. For the German Guehring.

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Sanctions expert: The threshold for prosecution has been crossed to start the investigation

ZDF asserts that “Guehring’s tools, which were exported to Russia, could have reached Kalashnikov through intermediaries.” Moreover, according to EU sanctions, many tools and devices are classified as dual-use goods, which means that they can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

– Thanks to harmless products such as drills, for example, a weapon producer can free himself from the ban – confirms Winkler. He notes that, from his point of view, “the minimum threshold for starting an investigation by the Public Prosecution has been exceeded.” As a company, you have a responsibility to know exactly who your business partner is. German producers must know where their goods end up in Russia. In this case, this is not done – the expert confirms. Only on May 24 – a few weeks after the first ZDF inquiry – Guehring announced on his website that he had stopped all business with Russia.

In Ukraine, Kalashnikovs in the hands of the Russian army are killed every day. For the production of this weapon, Kalashnikov turned to Germany for help and probably got it in the form of tools – summarizes ZDF.

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