Russia continues to acquire Western-made military hardware despite sanctions imposed by the US and EU.
Russian investigative news site Important Stories has brought attention to multiple YouTube videos showing Russian forces utilizing Western equipment with their arsenal. A Russian soldier, for instance, brags about the fact that his rifle’s scope is manufactured in Beaverton, Oregon, by Leupold & Stevens, Inc. Nightforce is a firm situated in Lavonia, Georgia. Another video shows a sniper utilizing a scope with their logo. Scopes developed by the Austrian Swarovski Optik and the Californian Holosun are seen in other videos used by Russian snipers.
From 2022 to 2023, Russian customs data shows that rifle scopes worth almost 16 billion rubles ($173 million USD) were imported to Russia. Despite the obvious markings indicating that these imports were meant for hunting and not for military use, it appears that they have been diverted for military use. It was pointed out by Important Stories that the makers seem to be following all the rules, and they probably don’t know where or how their equipment is used.
There have been rumors that US-made military hardware is being lawfully resold to Russian defense forces, all while the original manufacturer remains unaware of the transaction. Some have proposed that American manufacturers embed geolocation tags into their products, so that they may be programmed to shut down automatically in countries like Russia that have embargoes on their use. Even if that isn’t feasible, manufacturers and the government might at least use GPS tags to monitor the whereabouts of weapons and equipment.
Reports surfaced in May of last year that Russian forces were using American-made equipment for military attacks inside the country. In May of the same year, John Kirby, a spokesman for the United States National Security Council, reaffirmed the point.