There has been a lot of speculation online about how the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 will effect ammunition supply in the West. There is one large ammunition exporter in Ukrainian called Lugansk Cartridge Works (LCW). They manufacture 5.56mm, 5.45mm, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x54mm, 9x19mm and 9x18mm cartridges. Their rounds are made with steel-core FMJ bullets for military use and lead-core for consumer use.
They export cartridges under their own brand but, more importantly, have been known to manufacture ammunition on behalf of international brands. They are known, for example, to make ammunition for Wolf.
Lugansk Cartridge Works is in the city of Luhansk (formerly Voroshilovgrad. Also known as Lugansk). It is the provincial capital of Ukraine’s eastern most province, Luhansk Oblast. The main language is Russian and ethnic-Russians make up 39% of the population. The city of Luhansk is less than 12 miles from the Russian border.
A few days ago the Luhansk Regional Council asked for support from Russia. If Russia does mount a full scale invasion of Ukraine, Lugansk will one of the first cities they occupy. If they decide to annex Ukrainian territory, Lugansk is sure to be one of the regions they take. I expect the Lugansk Cartridge Works to already be occupied by Ukrainian law enforcement or military in anticipation of an invasion, rebellion or riots.
So what does this mean for you, a Western ammunition consumer?
Not a lot. Lugansk Cartridge Works is just one factory. The revolution, and any subsequent invasions or military actions, may put greater strain on Ukrainian and Russian manufacturers and suppliers, but I don’t expect we will notice any change in supply. If the Russian Bear crosses the border, there will not be a lot of shooting.
Now if Russia is hit with trade sanctions by the US and Europe it is possible Russian ammunition and arms exports would be banned. I don’t think these will be the top of the sanction list. 75% of US imports from Russian is energy, 16% is raw materials and 7% is chemical. Ammunition is just a small part of the remaining 4%. It is far more likely that instead of trade sanctions Russian membership will be suspended from international organizations and that travel or investment bans will be placed on Russian officials and businessmen. These are the kind of soft sanctions that politicians use when they don’t want to provoke an all out trade war.
Thanks to N.r. Jenzen-Jones of ARES for information used in this post.