Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, we’ve seen a number of FN MAG variants appear in use with Ukrainian forces. By far the most common appears to be the US M240 series. However, in recent months we’ve also seen a number of Swedish KSP-58 machine guns appear in imagery from the field.
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Sweden has long supported the Ukrainian war effort providing a shipment of 5,000 AT4s back in late February. The transfer of an additional batch of 5,000 AT4s was announced on 2 June. Most recently on 30 June, it was reported that Sweden would provide a fresh batch of light anti-armour weapons and also machine guns as part of a transfer worth $49 million. When delivery of this aid was made is unconfirmed but the KSP-58 machine guns are reported to have been in theatre possibly as early as July – August.
While the type of machine gun was not confirmed, since the beginning of September we’ve seen photos and video of a number of KSP-58 GPMGs appear in the theatre. Easily identified by their wooden stocks, grey-green coloured receiver finish and hooded front sight. Sweden was one of the earliest adopters of the FN MAG and the Kulspruta 58 entered service with the Swedish armed forces in the late 1950s and was originally chambered in the 6.5×55mm Swedish round. The KSP-58B was introduced following the adoption of 7.62x51mm.
These have been seen in the hands of International Legion units and also regular Ukrainian Army units centred around Mykolaiv and Kherson. All the examples of the weapon sighted appear to be KSP-58Bs, none of the guns seen have the Picatinny rails seen in the KSP-58F.
Speaking to Kaiser [frontline_view_kaiser], a German volunteer with the Ukrainian Army, he said his unit encountered “a brand-new, never used KSP with original factory delivered Box and all accessories untouched”. His colleague Yuri [nucking_futs_yuri] has shared some videos filmed in late August, during a training session he ran on FN MAG variants for various Ukrainian units. Yuri said there were about 20 guns on the range during the training session, with the majority being KSP-58 machine guns. Yuri shared a video in mid-September firing through a KSP-58B, from the hip, filmed after the training session had been completed.
While we can’t confirm that the KSP-58s came directly from Sweden, it seems likely. Another potential origin for the weapons may be the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Sweden gifted an unconfirmed number of KSP-58s to the Baltic States in the 1990s. Both Estonia and Lithuania began searching for a replacement for the KSP-58 in mid-2021. Given the Baltic states’ support for Ukraine, the guns may potentially have originated from there, rather than Sweden itself. We have already seen the Baltic States transfer former Swedish equipment including the PV-1110 recoilless anti-tank gun which was given to the Baltic states in the early 1990s. It remains to be seen if we’ll see more of the KSP-58s in the field.