In a new release, the U.S. Department of State and the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) have announced new sanctions restricting the import of Russian firearms and ammunition. Citing the Russian Federation’s use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny, these are the second round of sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act (CBW Act).
Affecting “new and pending permit applications for the permanent importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will honor ATF Form 6 permits approved on or before Sept. 6, 2021 and allow the import of Russian-made ammunition and firearms even if they arrive at a U.S. port on or after Sept. 7, 2021, per the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
Dating back to 1996, Voluntary Restraint Agreements (VRA) have banned the import of several types of Russian firearms, forcing imports to decline from 95,612 firearms in 2011 to only 4,802 in 2019. Conversely, Russian ammunition, which has also faced bans in recent decades, has remained a popular import as an affordable alternative to brass case ammunition.
During the ammunition shortage of 2020, importers brought in more than 765 million units of ammunition from Russia to supplement domestic production – nearly doubling their total from 2019. As a result, prices on Russian ammunition are predicted to increase until supply is depleted, further adding to the ongoing ammunition shortage.
In place for a minimum of 12 months, the sanctions are expected to extend much longer as they can only be lifted upon Russia meeting several outlined conditions of the CBW Act.