On Tuesday, June 20th, President Trump’s Treasury Department increased economic sanctions against Russia and Russian companies. This news came as relations between the US and Russia have grown more stressed over the past months. The economic sanctions went into effect while President Trump was meeting with the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Among the new companies included in the new restrictions is Molot-Oruzhie, an arms factory responsible for manufacturing the popular VEPR series of AK-inspired rifles and shotguns.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated that these sanctions, “will maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution.” The added sanctions come on the heels of continued unrest in Ukraine and the failure of both sides to meet obligations of the 2015 Minsk Agreement that ended the armed stand-off in the Ukraine. “This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty,” Mnuchin added. The additional sanctions are an extension of the economic sanctions originally levied in the early 2014, at the beginning of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine. Since the original sanctions, the US has consistently increased pressure on Russia.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control released this listing for Molot in the recent sanctions:
MOLOT-ORUZHIE, OOO (a.k.a. OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOI OTVETSTVENNOSTYU ‘MOLOT-ORUZHIE’; f.k.a. OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOI OTVETSTVENNOSTYU PROIZVODSTVENNO INSTRUMENT KACHESTVO), 135 ul. Lenina, Vyatskie Polyany, Kirov Obl. 612960, Russia; Registration ID 1094307000633 (Russia); Tax ID No. 4307012765 (Russia); Government Gazette Number 60615883 (Russia) [UKRAINE-EO13661] (Linked To: KALASHNIKOV CONCERN).
Kalashnikov Concern was named in a previous round of economic sanctions on Russia. The connection between Kalashnikov and Molot is not clear, but Molot may have acted as an exporter or contractor for Kalashnikov as a way around the economic sanctions. Another theory suggests that the Molot-Oruzhie factory was going bankrupt, and Kalashnikov Concern (the parent company of historic AK factories Izhmash and Izhmekh) purchased the factory but kept the company in place.
The United States importer of Molot and Izhmash-made firearms, FIME Group, made the following statement via their Facebook page:
The current sanctions do not affect the legality of firearms made by the Molot-Oruzhie company, but rather prevent an American company from having business dealings with certain individuals and companies in Russia. In this way, it may be difficult for the US-based FIME Group to import any additional VEPR Rifles or VEPR-12 Shotguns. As sanctions from 2014 have yet to be lifted, it may be quite sometime before we see a new shipment of VEPR firearms enter the market. If that is the case, the current stock of imported firearms may e-vepr-ate pretty quickly. FIME may have to instead focus on other non-sanctioned companies such as Zastava and Arex.