Russian invading forces still get Western-made scopes for rifles

Russian invading forces are reportedly still getting Western-made military equipment, despite the sanctions that have been implemented since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Several videos on YouTube featured Russian snipers at the frontlines in Ukraine equipped with Western-made scopes.

According to a report by Important Stories, a Russian investigative media outlet, Russian snipers are using Western-made rifle scopes in the war against Ukraine.

A Russian sniper featured in one video cited by the outlet claims that his firearm is equipped with a Leupold scope. Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is an American optics manufacturer based in Beaverton, Oregon.

Another video cited by Important Stories shows Russian snipers using a scope marked with a Nightforce logo—an optics manufacturer based in Lavonia, Georgia. The report also cited videos that show Moscow troops using rifle scopes produced by Holosun, a California-based manufacturer, and Swarovski Optik, a company based in Austria.

These reports were shared by Newsweek, which reached out to Leupold, Nightforce, and Holosun via email for comment but didn’t get any answer before its article was published.

According to Russian customs data quoted by Important Stories, Russia imported around 16 billion rubles ($173 million) worth of rifle scopes between 2022 and 2023.

The scopes had labels indicating they were intended for installation on hunting weapons and not for military use.  However, the video revealed that Russian soldiers utilize these scopes (watch our video).

The study named two Russian online hunting stores as the source of the rifle scope shipments. According to Important Stories, one business, Pointer, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, has purchased approximately 3 billion rubles ($32 million) in scopes from Holosun since Ukraine was invaded in February 2022.

According to Important Stories, the Moscow-based hunting store Navigator has also imported roughly 400 million rubles ($4 million) in optics since the war began, including over 2,000 rifle scopes from Holosun.

The import of scopes and other goods “for hunting” is arranged through parallel imports; manufacturers, most likely, do not know where their goods end up.” Pointer uses intermediaries in China, Navigator in Turkey, and Kazakhstan, Important Stories wrote.

The countries through which Russia has already learned to circumvent sanctions to purchase dual-use goods should be of particular concern to the West.

Western states and companies should pay particular attention to the sale and supply of goods that could potentially end up in Russia and be used in the war against Ukraine. 

After all, to ensure the full effect of sanctions, it is necessary to eliminate all ways of circumventing them and ensure their full implementation.

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