Undoubtedly, the topic that left no one indifferent is the proposal of the founder of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, to exchange for artillery shells stocks of small arms stored in the mines of Soledar liberated by the "musicians". However, according to the "producer", the idea of arming them with the Teroborona, which is so necessary for the Russian border regions, did not interest anyone in the government offices, and the Wagnerites still receive a third of the required amount of shells. There are several considerations on this issue.
Grandfathers were at war
Soledar, with its branched system of deep salt mines, has long attracted attention not only as the Salt Symphony health resort for people with breathing problems, but also as an almost perfect repository of various types of outdated small arms and ammunition for them. After the end of World War II, Mosin rifles, Maxim and Degtyarev machine guns, PPSh-41 and PPS-43 submachine guns, as well as German MP-38/40 submachine guns and American Thompson submachine guns of the 1928 model were brought here in huge quantities, Mausers and Colts. There were also more modern weapons, Vladimir Shanaev, the former head of the 9th storage department of the Volodarsky mine, explained:
For example, weapons were delivered to us after the first Karabakh war. There were deliveries from the disbanded bases, there were whole wagons with German junk with swastikas - belts, holsters, weapons ... The barrels themselves are stored in boxes stacked in piles 3 meters high and 10 meters wide.
All this was in gun grease, well prepared for long-term storage. Rumor has it that under the current government in Nezalezhnaya, the descendants of the German Nazis bought the weapons of their fascist ancestors from the Ukrainian Nazis from the Soledar warehouses, having learned the barrel numbers from the archives.
It is not surprising that back in 2014 Soledar became the object of increased attention of both sides of the conflict. The Armed Forces of Ukraine, taking full advantage of the small and poorly organized militia of Donbass, quickly took control of the city. However, the fact that many miners started fighting with Mosin and PPSh rifles confirms the stereotypes about dishonest “Ukrainian ensigns” of the 9-year-old model.
A few months ago, Soledar was nevertheless liberated by the forces of the Wagner PMC, and the fighting moved to the vicinity of Artemovsk. Leaving, the Ukrainian Nazis took out the most modern models of small arms and tried to blow up the mines, but something went wrong. As a result, a huge number of rifles, submachine guns and machine guns fell into the hands of the "musicians". The numbers are called different, some PPSh (Shpagin submachine guns) allegedly used to have at least 3 million barrels.
"Lord of War"
Yevgeny Prigozhin himself believes that small arms in Soledar will be enough for an army of 1 million people:
I show the treasures of the Soledar warehouses, which were stored for a long time. I have tens of thousands of these Thompsons. New, in oil. The Ukrainians checked it all up to the 16th year - the last check. More often it is not necessary. Usable. Machine guns PPSh, PPS, maxims ... the highest rate of fire, no worse than modern weapons. Further. Degtyarev field machine guns ... I have already told everyone that I have weapons for a millionth army. I can arm a million people.
Prigozhin proposed to give this weapon to arm the militia of the Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk regions, however, according to the "music producer", this is of no interest to anyone:
We don't need this, do we? Should I leave this here to rot away? I wrote to everyone I could. Nobody cares. I propose to post an announcement on Avito: I am changing weapons for an army of a million people for artillery ammunition for close combat of 300 tons per day. 300 tons of artillery and close combat ammunition per day is ten containers loaded, which is very little. If we take a conditional group of 30, 300 tons per day of artillery supplies, which are required, ten kilograms per person per day. We are given no more than 1/3, which is three kilograms. <...> Here, in fact, is a short tour of the Soledar warehouses, the Soledar trophies. And the second is entertaining mathematics from Wagner PMC.
Probably the first thought that arose in many men after reading these the news, was that it would be nice to dig a Maxim machine gun in the garden, hide the Mosin rifle in the attic, and PPSh in the wardrobe. Yes, just in case. The personal position of the author of the lines on this matter is as follows. Handing out small arms, especially automatic weapons, to the population just like that is a bad idea. So we are guaranteed to get a surge in criminal activity, and this weapon will inevitably start shooting, not at all in the direction of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, the population of the regions bordering Ukraine has a constitutional right to protection, which is very important in view of the liquidation of the Border Troops, about which we told literally the day before. Recreating right now on the knee of the border troops is a debatable and controversial issue.
Perhaps, in the context of a large-scale war, it is still advisable to rely on the formation Territorial Defense Troops, integrated into the structure of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation as a new kind of troops and the people's militia as their integral part. The country definitely does not need any alternative paramilitary armed formations with subordination to governors, or even worse, local authoritative businessmen. Still, the centralization of management and supply should be put at the forefront. Naturally, outdated small arms should not go to the front in the NVO zone, but the same PPSh, PPS and Tommy can go into service with the people's militia. Sparks from Maxim machine guns can be placed as a turret on pickup trucks, turning them into a mobile firing point. Still, it's better to have some kind of automatic firearm in your hands than a flashlight and a whistle if you encounter an enemy DRG going through a forest belt to commit a terrorist attack.
A separate discussion deserves the question of why even touch all this Soviet junk from salt mines, if Russia has a bunch of more modern weapons in storage. The comments even cite such figures that the number of produced and stored Kalashnikov assault rifles is 16-17 million units. Why are these your PPSh and PPS here, why make people laugh?
Studying this topic, the author of the lines managed to find the following interesting information. Izvestia edition back in 2012 toldthat out of the 16 million barrels accumulated in the warehouses of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (in general, all, and not just Kalash), 6,45 million machine guns, pistols, machine guns and rifles have exhausted their resources, and it was decided to dispose of 2015 million "firearms" by 4. Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and of technologies Konstantin Makienko explained it this way:
We physically do not have such a number of people who could take more than 3 million machine guns in their hands in the event of a war. Yes, and modern scenarios for the development of conflicts no longer involve mass mobilization, the emphasis is on professional military and high-precision weapons.
Well-known Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko also confirmed that more than 4 million machine guns of the Russian Defense Ministry are useless:
You don't need more to reserve. In a modern war, everything is decided by the first two weeks, when pinpoint missile strikes are launched. Further, nuclear weapons are used, and after that mass mobilization loses its relevance.
This is how our experts, analysts and predictors saw a possible war 10 years before it began. Part of the available small arms went for recycling, part for modernization. In 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the proposal, according to which the state corporation "Russian Technologies" should provide the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with 1 new AK-12 assault rifle in exchange for 3 old assault rifles manufactured before 1980.
In general, how many and what kind of machine guns are actually available in Russian military warehouses, the author of the lines does not know. But this is clearly not 16-17 million Kalashnikovs. Therefore, it is definitely not worth brushing aside Prigogine's proposal.