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Russia is Worried: Americans Are Sending Body Armor and Ammo to Ukraine

Bullet up close. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Body Armor and Ammo Are Coming: The United States and its NATO allies have sent more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, to Ukraine as part of military aid to the besieged nation. The U.S. has already sent $200 million in military assistance and has pledged to do more.

Average Americans have also been doing their part, and among the efforts, many have been sending body armor to aid Ukrainian fighters on the ground. Yet, it hasn’t been as simple as heading to the local military surplus store and making a purchase.

The U.S. has restrictions in place on the export of certain military-grade “bullet proof vests,” military helmets and other advanced equipment. Fortunately for those doing the actual fighting, some of the restrictions have already been eased or even lifted since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last month.

Small Efforts Across the United States Add Up

Texas marketing executive Bret Starr, who owns The Starr Conspiracy marketing agency, was among those who sprung into action after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine last month. While halfway around the world from the fighting, Starr quickly began to purchase quantities of body armor and helmets and also expected to send the first 20 sets this week. They’ll be headed to his colleagues at Respect.Studio, located in Western Ukraine. The Ukrainian firm had led Starr Conspiracy’s social media campaigns.

“We’re worried about the people that we’ve been on video calls with for two years,” Starr told reporters.

To get around any export restrictions, Starr is shipping the body armor and helmets through the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, a non-profit group that is already licensed to handle such shipments.

An even larger effort to supply Ukrainians with body armor began on New York’s Long Island. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that it was able to supply about 450 pieces of body armor to the Long Island-Ukraine Emergency Response Drive. In addition, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison announced that they had donated more than 750 decommissioned bulletproof vests to Ukraine. The body armor should already be on the way to Ukraine.

Small Arms and Ammunition Exports

The United States Department of Commerce announced last week that it was rapidly processing requests from Americans to export not only body armor but also firearms and ammunition. The agency added that individuals are still advised to check agency regulations to determine what – if any – export license might be needed to ship specific firearms to the Ukraine.

“The department has been processing requests rapidly for the export of firearms and ammunition to Ukraine under its existing processes and authorities,” a department spokesperson explained.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, on New York’s Long Island, had sent a letter to President Joe Biden earlier this month that requested immediate federal approval to ship more than 50 rifles and shotguns he had gathered in a donation drive for Ukraine.

“The fact that we do have a lot of legal gun ownership in the United States means that, you know, people may have a spare gun to contribute,” Blakeman told reporters, adding that he had seen similar interest from across the country to gather arms for the Ukrainians.

Millions of Rounds of Ammunition

Two of the largest ammunition manufacturers have also stepped up efforts to ensure that the Ukrainian defenders have the cartridges to fend off the Russians. Earlier this month, AMMO Inc. CEO Fred Wagenhals announced that his firm would ship one million cartridges to Ukraine answering calls from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The decision came to send the ammunition, after Zelensky rejected an offer of safe passage out of the capital of Kyiv and stated, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

The Scottsdale, Arizona-headquartered ammunitions manufacturer quickly said that it would send the cache of rounds to Ukraine free of charge.

“First of all, I believe in the Second Amendment,” Wagenhals, who made his fortune in NASCAR before founding his company, told Fox 10 News in Phoenix. “I also believe in freedom and democracy.”

The ammunition, which would be worth around $700,000, is being produced at the company’s facilities in Wisconsin and will then be delivered via a private plane. As of last week, Wagenhals was waiting for the green light from the United States government.

“AMMO, Inc. Offers to Donate One Million Rounds of Ammunition to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Support of Their Fight for Freedom,” the company posted on social media.

AMMO, Inc. was also just the first company to pledge such support. Remington Arms has since announced that it would send a million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine.

“We heard President Zelensky’s call. Remington is sending 1M rounds of ammo to Ukraine,” Remington also announced via social media earlier this month.

American shooters not need worry that those donations will impact the supply of ammo at the local gun shop.

Each of those companies produces billions of rounds annually, and according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, at least 12 billion rounds were manufactured last year in the United States. It is very much safe to say that American shooters won’t be facing added shortages simply because a couple of companies are offering to help the people of Ukraine defend their homeland.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a contributing writer for Forbes Magazione. 

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.