THE KALASHNIKOV STORY

During the 20th century, the idea of states and their organizing type were shaping within the ideology. With this, the institutions of states are the political threats against them together. Especially the liberal, democratic, fascist and, political ideas contract each other, and each one was a threat against each other. Especially in the Cold War Era, cultivating is one of the biggest results of these security issues. In this study, the effects of the measures taken by a state against this security threat to the world will be examined.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov

Avtomat Kalashnikov (AK), which is frequently seen in all conflict regions of the world, produced over 100 million units until the 21st century. This weapon was born during World War 2 when the Germans attacked the Soviets and the German industry and the Blitzkreig was in need of an automatic rifle, as the German soldiers used (MP-44). Mikhail Kalashnikov, who participated in a design contest organized by Stalin, was chosen from among many participants. As Mikhail Kalashnikov stated in an interview, he designed this weapon, which he designed to protect his homeland, simply and reliably because the Soviet soldiers were untrained. This rifle, which was started to be produced in 1947, consisted of completely cheap parts because Mikhail Kalashnikov had designed for his homeland under the conditions of that period, should have been cheap and, had a simple working principle as cheap. As a matter of fact, AK performed an effective performance produced from cheap parts with a simple working principle, working in all kinds of climatic conditions, even in water and mud, and using today’s NATO ammunition, 7×62.

With the Soviet expansionism in the Cold War after World War II, Stalin was helping many socialist governments and states. After the Hungarian Uprising, which erupted in 1956, the Soviet government used AK-equipped soldiers to suppress the uprising, and the world publicity recognized it for the first time. At the end of the 1950s, Stalin went to fraternal countries (Bulgaria, Romania, China, and Yugoslavia) to establish arms factories and officially gift these countries to produce their own AK rifle. Because the USSR, trying to securitize itself, was arming the states that were guided against imperialism.

In Vietnam, USSR was again sending AK rifles to the communist government and its army, Vietkong. These rifles were superior to the American soldiers and their M14 and M16, being a simple machine for jungle guerillas in a humid environment, mud, and water. In fact, after the USA’s containment policy was last here, the AK rifle made in USSR, passed the first test in Vietnam and was moving towards becoming a symbol of socialist insurgency. In China, where there is another socialist resistance, Mao made an order for AK. Because he improved the guerilla strategy according to himself which is the massive number of citizens armed (coming from the village and also are not educated) with the simple weapon which has a large scale attack. And the AK was the best option for Mao’s strategy.

With the victory of Mao, the AK-47 began to be recognized all over the world and became a socialist resistance. These events would show that a basic trained soldier or guerrilla fighter carrying AK as a simple and reliable weapon could defeat well-trained soldiers inside the special weapon with M16. In another sense, the fact that Fidel Castro was always seen with the AK-47 and his connection to the AK-47 increased the popularity of this weapon in the socialist environment.

AK-47 designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov.

How did it fall from the popularity of AK in the socialist environment, around the world and in different ideologies, in the hands of different people? After the defeat of the war against the fall of the Islamic mujahideen of the AKs, the Soviets’ own aid in Afghanistan. USSR withdrew from the region as the USA did in Vietnam. The photograph of a terrorist organization and its leader (Osama bin Laden), who will become more familiar with the world in the future, among the Islamic mujahideen strengthening in the region, will be in the public with the world and in almost all photos of him, he is accompanied by his AK, which he and al-Qaeda consider the terrorists’ most important weapon.[1] After the withdrawal of the soviets, the mujahids drove most of these weapons at low prices on the black market, and the AK has now become a very cheap killing machine, and as the number one weapon of drug cartels in Afghanistan.

After the collapse of USSR, the AK’s growing reputation as a cheap, reliable, effective weapon made sales to legitimate armies and rogue actors easier even individual Soviet soldiers reportedly sold AKs on the black market for less than $ 100.  After the end of the Cold War, these actors then see AK again in most regional conflicts. As a specific example, AK was often seen on both sides of the Bosnian War. In another conflict region, Chechnya Grozny, AK-47 is seen in the hands of most mujahideen, which the AK culture in the Islamic mujahideen started in the Afghan-Soviet struggle.

There is another example from Turkish history; Border Battalion Commander Erdal Sarızeybek from Şemdinli said that in his memories was equipped with the PKK terrorist organization AK-47 rifles against the Turkish army. The best work of these rifles against the geographical conditions of the region gave us great loss. Because the G3 rifles in the hands of Mehmetçik worked hard in the cold, mud, snow, and damp region, AKs in the hands of terrorists were raining bullets like rain in the military station raids. This is not only for Turkish Military Forces. In the past, many armies in the world were suffered casualties by some terrorist organizations such as IRA and FARC

Many weapons were sold to insurgent fighters and anti-government rebels not only in the Middle East but also in Africa and South America. As a matter of fact, the AK used in many African countries for independence clash and forming new states. A good example of that is Mozambique. They use the AK in their flag and it symbolized the socialist insurgency as well. These groups could not afford expensive weapons like the M-16.[2] Because of its low price and availability, the reliable AK became the perfect weapon for guerrilla fighters and terrorists. “Kalashnikovs poured into Rwanda from Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, and other Warsaw Pact countries whose cash-strapped governments were eager to sell weapons to both sides. The Rwandan Popular Front (RFP), which operated from camps in Uganda and Tanzania and was predominately composed of Tutsis, mainly carried AKs from Romania. ”[3] Even many children in Africa use the AK because of the easy using specialty. “Because AKs are inexpensive, easy to fire, require almost no training, need few repairs or maintenance, they are ideally suited for child soldiers.”[4]

There is a link between these weapons and the whole world in the subject of how the Kalashnikov impacts the international security. There is an example from the UN weapons inspector Alex Vines’ investigation in Sierra Leon, he said that “A rebel child soldier showed me his AK-47 assault rifle which was stamped with M-70 2002 and a serial number. I knew immediately that this weapon had been made in Serbia ”[5].

In conclusion, this shows that USSR placed AKs on many countries as a form of aid and produce AKs above the world demand for their own security against imperialism and another time when appropriate the AKs fire against the USSR. Also, this gun walks around the world and came to a child’s hands or terrorists or the people whose illegal. This shows us to security measures taken by country must be well-thought. Because Mikhail Kalashnikov’s weapon design to only protect his homeland has become a cheap killing machine worldwide as a result of the decisions made by politicians under the name of security measures. Meaning that, within a result of a security dilemma in the past, the impact armament race is coming today with a lot of dead people (many of them are innocent). Producing a weapon at any era (past or today it does not matter) which is cheap, simple, and reliable is a danger for all humankind because it could easily turn into a terrorist attack or mass killing. These actions put themselves in a vicious circle resulted to many loss of lives.


[1]KAHANER Larry (2007), “AK-47”

[2]McNAB Chris (2001), “The AK-47”

[3]NTV Haber Arşiv (2000), “ Murat Bereket, Pusula, Kalaşnikof”

[4] LARRY KAHANER, AK-47,page 75

[5] ibid, page 73

[6] ibid, page 96

[7] ibid, page 58

[8] ibid, page 89

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2017/03/30/the-cost-of-an-ak-47-on-the-black-market-across-the-world-infographic/#5090a8a97442

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jul/30/russia.kateconnolly

https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/ak-47.htm

https://globalriskinsights.com/2015/10/economics-of-the-ak-47/

İsmet Anıl Yılmaz
Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations.
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