NewsRussian troops dodge sanctions with $174.5m worth of hunting scopes from the West

Russian troops dodge sanctions with $174.5m worth of hunting scopes from the West

Western sights are hitting Russia.
Western sights are hitting Russia.
Images source: © Getty Images | Sean Gallup

2:21 PM EST, December 27, 2023

Russia is importing scopes produced in the West, commonly used as accessories for hunting rifles. Russian arms companies procure these scopes, and it is reported that they reach the Ukrainian frontline. This news was reported on Tuesday by the independent Russian news portal "Waznyje Istorii." These scopes are not imported directly but via third-party countries like China or Turkey.

Data from the Russian customs service reveals that the value of scopes imported into Russia in 2022-23 was 16 billion rubles, equivalent to nearly $174.5 million. Although these scopes were officially intended for use with hunting rifles and not for military activities, journalists contend that some of these accessories may end up on the frontline.

YouTube provides evidence

"Waznyje Istorii" refers to YouTube videos where Russian soldiers showcase weapons fitted with scopes produced by Western European and US companies. The companies cited include Leupold from the USA, American-Japanese Nightforce, Austrian Swarovski Optik, and American-Chinese Holosun.

Per the portal, two Russian companies - one in St. Petersburg and another in Moscow - have imported scopes and other hunting and sports rifle accessories into Russia. Since the invasion of Ukraine began, the St Petersburg-based company reportedly imported around 50,000 scopes manufactured by Holosun. In 2022-23, both companies sold goods marketed as hunting equipment to Russian defense enterprises. One of the buyers was a St Petersburg company called Technologia, previously associated with the late Evgeniy Prigozhin, owner of the mercenary Wagner Group.

Journalists speculate that the manufacturers of these scopes may not be aware of their product's final destination, as companies from China, Kazakhstan, and Turkey handle the import process.

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