New sanctions imposed Friday by the U.S. State Department include at least a one-year ban on the importation of firearms and ammunition manufactured or located in Russia.

The moves come on the pretext of continued retaliation on the Russian government over its believed use of “Novichok,” a group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, in the August 2020 poisoning of Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition figure and critic of President Vladimir Putin. 

Although the attack on Navalny occurred over a year ago while he was in Russia, allegedly involved assets of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s chemical weapons program, and the 3,284-word press release announcing the sanctions doesn't include mention of the words "firearms" or "ammunition," those are the two principal items now banned on the pretext of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. 

New sanctions imposed Friday under the CBW Act include:

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.



The sanctions will go live in two weeks, and remain in place for at least a year, after which they can only be removed if the White House reports to the currently Democrat-controlled Congress that certain conditions concerning chemical weapons have been met by Moscow, an unlikely chain of events: 

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.

Until then, you can probably kiss those sweet, sweet deals on cheap and reliable Russian-made ammo such as Barnaul, Tula, Red Army Standard, and Wolf, goodbye. Meanwhile, those with guns chambered in 7.62x39, 7.62x54R, 7.62x25 Tokarev, 9x18 Makarov, and 5.45x45 could be in a pinch to find cheap ammo, with the exception of surplus fodder from non-sanctioned countries such as the former Yugoslavia

While the NRA points out that there may be a rush to approve new ammunition shipments from Russia before the planned Sept. 7 publication date of the ban, "it’s not clear that ATF will provide any type of rush approval for the Form 6s necessary to lawfully import ammunition into the United States. These forms often take six or more weeks to get approved, so ATF delays may prevent any new shipments being approved for importation."

What does this mean for ammo prices in general?


In the month of May 2021 alone, figures from the US International Trade Commission released through the National Shooting Sports Foundation report that 462.3 million units of cartridges, not including shotgun shells, were imported from overseas into the country. Some reports hold that as much as 40 percent of overseas ammo supply could be coming from Russian manufacturers or exporters located in Russia. The sudden loss of potentially hundreds of millions of units of ammunition from an already voracious ammo market could see consumer prices skyrocket as demand aggressively outpaces supply.

As for firearms imports, the Obama-Biden Administration in 2014 placed the Kalashnikov Concern and other Russian gun makers on a sanction list over the country's low-key asymmetric war with Ukraine. Per figures from the International Trade Commission, 204,788 firearms of all kinds were imported from Russia in 2013. This figure plunged to just 9,556 in 2015.