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Russian Ammo Imports Banned by Biden Administration

Ammo supplies were starting to improve until news broke that more trouble is brewing in the form of a Russian Ammo Import Ban; here's what we know.

Russian Ammo Imports Banned by Biden Administration

On August 20, 2021, the US State Department banned the importation of ammunition from Russia. (Firearms News photo)

The Russian-ammo import ban news came late in the day on August 20, 2021, when the Biden Administration announced, through the U.S. State Department, that new sanctions were being added to the CBW Act of 1991.

In what could be construed by cynics as a Friday afternoon news dump in a week of disastrous news coming out of the White House over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the escalating crisis in Afghanistan, the news immediately stirred up the shooting industry and firearm owners across the country.

Why? According to a State Department fact sheet, “Pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the CBW Act), the United States will impose a second round of sanctions on the Russian Federation over its use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.

New sanctions imposed under the CBW Act include:

  1. Restrictions on the permanent imports of certain Russian firearms. New and pending permit applications for the permanent importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia will be subject to a policy of denial.
  2. Additional Department of Commerce export restrictions on nuclear and missile-related goods and technology pursuant to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.”

Why did the Biden Administration make such moves? Would you believe espionage and chemical weapons?

Yes, it’s true, because according to the State Department’s fact sheet, the sanctions issued on Friday include “… a continuation of measures imposed on March 2, 2021, as well as in 2018 and 2019 in response to the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter, along with the waivers associated with these sanctions.”

The State Department fact sheet also indicated that “Today, the Departments of State and the Treasury also designated numerous individuals and entities, including operatives involved in poisoning Mr. Navalny and entities that have developed Russia’s chemical weapons capabilities.  Together with the measures imposed under the CBW Act, these actions send a clear message that there will be accountability for the use of chemical weapons.”

While the second sanction noted above will obviously not affect shooting enthusiasts across the U.S., the first will likely have a noticeable effect. First, there will be no new import permits granted, for now. And second, it appears existing import permits that expire will not be allowed to be renewed by the State Department. To add insult to injury, existing import permits maybe be subject to restrictions, which are unknown at this time. 

What does all of this mean to shooting-industry businesses in the U.S., as well as the nation’s consumers who own firearms?

For starters, since the nation has already spent months dealing with ammunition shortages that have affected firearm owners across the board, this has the potential to make things even worse. While ammo supplies have been slowly improving in recent weeks, this move could spur elevated ammo buying once again.

Perhaps even worse, the State Department’s move also could yield a  smaller supply chain in the future as the existing permits expire, assuming other ammo manufacturers aren’t able to pick up the slack. 

The bottom line is that while this move might not directly affect a lot of shooters in the U.S., it certainly won’t help the situation either. And that could result in even more frustrated firearm owners.


What is the timing on all of this in terms of the start and the end of sanctions? September 7, 2021, according to the State Department fact sheet:

“These latest sanctions on Russia pursuant to the CBW Act will take effect upon the publication of a Federal Register notice expected on September 7, 2021, and they will remain in place for a minimum of 12 months. The sanctions can only be lifted after a 12-month period if the Executive Branch determines and certifies to Congress that Russia has met several conditions described in the CBW Act, 22 U.S.C. 5605(c), including (1) providing reliable assurances that it will not use chemical weapons in violation of international law, (2) it is not making preparations to use chemical weapons in the future, (3) it is willing to allow international inspectors to verify those assurances, and (4) it is making restitution to Mr. Navalny.”

The bottom line is that the August 20, 2021, news dump that was announced by the State Department won’t help a year when guns and ammunition were already in short supply.

Editor's Note: Click here for the latest update to this developing story.

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