As you may know, in July 2014 the owner, Rostec, of the Baikal, Saiga and Vepr brands was put on the US sanctions list to punish Russia. That apparently put a halt to about half of a 200,000 rifle deal being halted that they are now trying to find other buyers for and is hurting them financially: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30404648
Kalshnikov group is trying hard to improve the brand’s reputation and has approximately 30 different brands in the works. As of 12/5/2014, they say they are focusing on Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific markets and not the US. What I would read into that is that they are not publicly pushing to get back into the US. Given how huge the market is here, I can’t help but feel they are still trying to get back in but there isn’t any public information about their efforts. The two following stories about their rebranding efforts are interesting:
Unfortunately, as of today, December 14th, there are no indications that we are going to see the Vepr or Saiga rifles coming back into the US any time soon. Putin’s friends are still making a ton of money and the sanctions aren’t changing his mind any. The problem with sanctions in general is that they sound good politically but often don’t work very well.
The change in ownership from the huge Russian conglomerate known as “Rostec State Corporation” to the private individuals of Alexei Krivoruchko and Andrei Bokarev hasn’t yielded any changes thus far. The initial hope was that by moving ownership of the Kalashnikov to someone/or a group not on the named sanctions list would improve the situation but that does not seem to be the case thus far.
Bottom line, no changes or “cracks” in the import ban are visible via publicly accessible news stories and such. It would look like we are stuck, and will be for the foreseeable future, on the sidelines still unable to import the Russian weapons.