'Ukraine has a grenade problem. In recent years, thousands of the inexpensive, easy-to-use weapons have found their way into the hands of criminals and other unauthorized end-users throughout the country. The wayward grenades are part of a broader problem of illicit proliferation of small arms, light weapons, and their ammunition that has plagued Ukraine since Russian-backed separatists launched their uprising in 2014.
As has frequently been observed, ammunition and weapons are inextricably linked; without the former the latter cannot function. The effective regulation and control of the production, transfer, storage and destruction of ammunition is therefore vital to broader efforts to prevent, reduce and combat uncontrolled or illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) holdings and flows.
Co-published with BICC, FAS, GRIP, and SEESAC with support from the German Federal Foreign Office
The Ammunition Tracing Kit is designed to enable rapid, reliable, and responsible reporting of small-calibre ammunition in a variety of circumstances. It provides instructions for reporting on ammunition recovered at crime scenes and on cartridges collected during disarmament or weapons collection programmes; it also supplies guidelines for investigating parties to armed conflict or crime.
The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) initiative encourages nine affected South-east European governments to develop a pro-active, coordinated, regional approach to secure and destroy excess stockpiles. The RASR initiative's aim is to prevent disastrous explosions and misuse of conventional weapons and munitions.
Making the Rounds: Illicit Ammunition in Ukraine finds that thousands of hand grenades, rockets, mortar rounds, landmines, and tins of firearms cartridges have proliferated throughout Ukraine, including to areas located far from the conflict zone in the east.
Even though states may not intentionally supply materiel to armed groups, a lack of stringent risk assessments on weapons and ammunition exports destined for areas prone to diversion can hamper efforts to curtail the broader illicit arms trade.
Small arms and light weapons need ammunition. Government forces and armed groups cannot wage battle or train their troops without a sustained supply of ammunition, and its availability determines the type of weapons used in most of the conflicts around the world. The surplus ammunition market provides the buyers with cheap, easily available, and compatible rounds. It also allows the suppliers to reduce potentially obsolete national stockpiles, and to benefit from the revenues of surplus sales.
Arms and ammunition are evidence. Many weapons carry marks that, combined with their physical characteristics, reveal important information about them, including their manufacturer, age, and origin. This information, in turn, provides vital clues about the sources and flows of weapons in the area in which they were found.
Ammunition is an expensive commodity and an essential resource for the implementation of a national defence and security policy. However, national ammunition stockpiles can also pose risks to national security and public safety. Poor accounting and inadequate physical security of storage facilities can facilitate the diversion of ammunition from the national stockpile to terrorists, criminals, and other armed groups, increasing insecurity and instability.