Russia Planning To Disarm Population In Newly Annexed Ukrainian Regions – OpEd


As soon as the Duma reconvenes in the new year, pro-Kremlin deputies plan to submit legislation governing the possession of guns by the population in the DNR, LNR, Zaprozhye and Kherson oblasts of Ukraine. The measure as drafted appears intended to disarm the population in these newly occupied territories.

Specifically, the draft bill orders that anyone in these territories reregister guns over the next year. Failure to do so will prevent owners from purchasing ammunition and may result in fines or other penalties. Anyone who doesn’t reregister weapons will likely have them confiscated with or without compensation (

The fact that such a measure has been prepared highlights a problem few outsiders have focused on: the civilian population in these regions is in many cases heavily armed. Not surprisingly, Russian officials want to change that both to increase their control and limit the flow of weapons into the Russian Federation.

That flow is large and will only increase now that the Russian authorities are no longer maintaining border controls between these regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation itself. (On that problem, see and

The Duma debate on this issue should be instructive as Russia has a large and vocal gun lobby, many of whose members view any restrictions on gun ownership as opening the way to complete confiscation anyway. That Moscow now intends something like that in the occupied territories is thus a challenge to the lobby in Russia.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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