Reproduction of Russian Kalashnikov firearms in US tantamount to ‘theft’

Reproduction of Russian Kalashnikov firearms in US tantamount to ‘theft’
Russian state corporation Rostec says the production of Russian weapons in the US without a relevant license is illegal. The firm holds the majority stake in Kalashnikov Concern, the maker of the iconic AK-47 assault rifle.

The statement comes amid media reports that the US military wants to encourage domestic gunmakers to manufacture facsimiles of Russian weapons. Sanctions against Moscow prohibit their purchase from Russia. The weapons will reportedly be supplied to various militant groups in unstable regions around the world.

“The idea itself raises questions. If someone wants to do this work legally, in compliance with all the rules, they should discuss it with Rosoboronexport. Otherwise, it is an illegal copying of Russian products. In other words, it is a theft,” Rostec’s press service said.

On Tuesday, the National Interest media outlet reported that the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was offering grants to US companies which will be able to “produce fully functioning facsimiles of foreign-made weapons,” namely, the Russian light machine gun PKM and the NSV heavy machine gun. The manufactured weapons should be “equal to or better than” the originals, it said.

The USSOCOM said it won’t provide any technical drawings, parts and raw materials to the interested companies. Applicants will have to manufacture the weapons only on US territory, using only the US-produced materials and only employing US citizens.

The program may encourage manufacturers to produce copies of some other foreign weapons in future.

According to National Interest, USSOCOM's move may be related to Washington's plans to provide copies of the weapons to various groups operating in Iraq, Syria or other war zones. The idea of producing US copies of foreign weapons instead of procuring them abroad was qualified by the media outlet as a “sensible and economical” one.

Demand for Kalashnikov weaponry has surged worldwide after the US, and later the European Union, announced an import ban on the manufacturer in 2014.

US desire to reproduce Russian machine guns proves the reliability and excellence of the weaponry, according to Kalashnikov. The gun maker told RIA Novosti on Wednesday it did not have any concrete information about such plans but “is not surprised” as it is, once again, proof of the advantages that Russian arms exhibit.

Named after Mikhail Kalashnikov, a World War II Russian tank veteran who developed the “Avtomat Kalashnikova” rifle in 1947, known worldwide as the AK-47, Kalashnikov Concern is the largest firearms producer in Russia. In Soviet days, it provided as many as 600,000 rifles a year to the military.

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