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Russian snipers use Austrian rifles in war against Ukraine, despite EU sanctions 

Despite the EU imposing export restrictions on arms supplies to Russia, Russian companies continued to receive new shipments of Austrian-made Steyr Mannlicher rifles, with 11 sniper rifles imported in February 2024 alone, investigation finds.
Russian FSO sniper with an Austrian Steyr Mannlicher
Russian FSO sniper with an Austrian Steyr Mannlicher rifle on the walls of the Moscow Kremlin, May 2024 Photo: TASS
Russian snipers use Austrian rifles in war against Ukraine, despite EU sanctions 

At least 169 Steyr Mannlicher rifles and pistols manufactured in Austria were imported into Russia over the past two years, despite EU sanctions imposed on Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to the investigation. 

While Austria condemns Russian aggression and provides humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it still maintains neutrality in this war and opposes sending weapons to Ukraine.

Russian forces are reportedly using Austrian weapons in the ongoing war against Ukraine. In February 2024 alone, Russian companies received 11 sniper rifles manufactured in Austria, according to The Insider.  

The investigation confirmed from open sources that snipers in at least five different official Russian army brigades use Austrian Steyr Mannlicher rifles.

These Austrian rifles are popular among snipers in both the Russian army and security forces, including the Federal Protective Service (FSO) responsible for President Vladimir Putin’s security,  Russian Wagner Group’s mercenaries in Syria and Libya, and marines fighting in Ukraine, the Insider reports. 

In response to the annexation of Crimea, the EU imposed export restrictions on arms supplies to Russia, which meant that formal ties between the Austrian manufacturer Steyr Mannlicher and its Russian partners were supposedly severed. However, the investigation found that Russian companies continue to receive new shipments of these weapons. 

The biggest Russian importer of these Austrian rifles is LLC Armory Salon Arsenal, which reportedly received 11 Steyr Mannlicher rifles in February 2024. Two other Russian firms, LLC Hunter-Ru and Test-Weapons, imported 20 Steyr Mannlicher rifles and 65 Steyr A2 MF pistols in 2022 and 2023 respectively, the report says. 

Earlier, a major Italian firearms manufacturer, Beretta, was found sending guns and ammunition to Russia, circumventing EU sanctions imposed since 2014.  Beretta’s Russian distributor, Russkiy Orel, has imported over 835,000 rounds and 5,900 firearms since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. 

The EU aims to prepare a new 14th sanctions package against Russia before the end of June 2024. 


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