The problem with cheap, abundant, knockoff AK-47s is not that they are cheap, or abundant, but that they are counterfeit. Who says the Russians don’t get IP rights?
“More than 30 foreign companies, private and state based, continue the illegal manufacturing and copying of small arms,” said Sergey V. Chemezov, the former K.G.B. officer and confidant of Mr. Putin’s who directs Rosoboronexport, the state arms-marketing agency. “They undermine the reputation of the Kalashnikov.”
So far, few customers have paid notice. The largest customer in the market, the United States, has purchased whatever weapons it sees fit, coloring the AK-47’s 60th birthday, like much of Kalashnikov history, with another angry struggle.
“We cannot tolerate the situation when only 10 percent of the Kalashnikovs are manufactured legally,” said Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister. “We cannot stand for this. We must fight.”