Wired Weapons: Online Arms Trafficking in Russia and Ukraine

Eric Woods

'‘It’s not a piece of lumber, it’s not painted, it’s not restored, it’s not airsoft — it’s the natural product.’

‘Can I get it in St. Petersburg?’

‘That’s impossible’

So went one exchange over a rocket-propelled grenade system on a popular Russian language Dark Web forum. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Russian language forums cater not only to buyers and sellers in Russia, but to those in Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine as well. Interactions such as these help paint a more complex picture of online weapons dealing in the former Soviet Union. The rocket-propelled grenade for sale in Ukraine would not be transported to cities on the Russian side of the border. Nevertheless, despite geographic and political barriers between the two countries, the Dark Web infrastructure and techniques used to trade in arms have a significant level of overlap...'

Keywords: Illicit trafficking Dark web Online trafficking