Ukraine’s law enforcers are just about to eventually relinquish their long-time workhorse Kalashnikov assault rifles and carbines in favor of globally popular MP5 submachine guns designed by Germany’s Heckler & Koch.
The agency for the first time publicly presented its new tool of imposing law and order on May 15, at a firing range in Kyiv, with top police chiefs not denying themselves a joy to fire some rounds too.
The era of old Soviet 5.45×39-millimeter AKS-74Us carbines and other Kalashnikov family firearms draws to an end in Ukrainian police ranks: MP5s will become a new main weapon for most of Ukraine’s special police forces, and all guard and patrol units.
“In the nearest time, all National Police units drawing their duties in the streets, in airpots, passenger stations, will be equipped with the MP5,” as the agency’s head General Sergiy Knyazev said during the presentation.
According to the official, the Ukrainian police needs a less lethal and handier weapon adjusted to police action rather than exterminating enemy manpower in combat.
“A Kalashnikov rifle is a firearm needed by an army soldier,” General Knyazev said.
“It’s designed to be killing (combatants). A new kind of firearms is of preventive nature. A police officer using firearms as a last choice must halt an offender, give him a chance for life, and then put him to justice.”
Incorporating these firearms was an essential practical phase of reforming Ukraine’s law enforcement sector, he added.
Earlier, General Knyazev also asserted that the police’s rearmament program has an “ambitious goal” to get rid of most of traditional Soviet-era firearms, including all Kalashnikov rifles, and Makarov and TT pistols, in favor of “modern European firearms.”
However, as he noted, police units deployed to the war zone of Donbas will not be empowered with submachine guns such as MP5s, and their firepower will be still ensured with Kalashnikov.
Other than that, the police offered no detailed explanation into its desire to switch to a less deadly weapon — the internal security situation in Ukraine over past years have seen no clearly blatant surges of incidents involving killings of suspects during arrests or pursuits due to exceedingly deadly nature of weapons used by the police.
The MP5 submachine guns were initially developed in the 1960 by the Heckler & Koch in West Germany as an attempt to create a light and compact personal defense weapon using 9×19-millimeter Parabellum pistol cartridges.
They eventually gained huge popularity in 1980s, being operated by British Special Air Service (SAS) commandos and SWAT teams in the United States (although they were gradually shed in favor of AR-15 rifles). These submachine guns are generally praised for their compactness, usability, reliable structure, and broad potential for customization with tactical accessories.
A the same time, the weapon was criticized over its sensitivity to dirt, its sharp blowback, and difficulties of ensuring accurate fire in ripples.
Now, MP5 and over 100 of its variants are operated by police and special forces in over 50 nations worldwide. Apart from the original production by H&K in Germany, they are manufactured under license in a dozen of nations.
As the police’s Armament Department chief Major Maksym Movchan said during the presentation, MP5s are more fit for police action due to the lower bullet energy of their 9×19-millimeter munitions.
“In other words, (the cartridge) features lower penetrating effect, lower potential of bounce shots,” the officer said.
“Its stopping power retains within the range of 300-400 meters, as distinctive from an AK, out of which a bullet flies for up to 1.5 kilometers.”
The weapon weighting nearly 3 kilograms gets folded easily for making it compact for the use from inside a vehicle, the officer said, adding that the guns delivered to Ukraine featured various rails for mounting all necessary tactical equipment.
The guns demonstrated on May 15 were apparently not only variant delivered to Ukraine: On May 10, the police spokesman Artem Shevchenko demonstrated on his Facebook page a couple of MP5 with different barrels, namely a basic short one and the one featuring an integrated fire suppressor downplaying the bullet velocity and therefore lowing its noise. In his words, this feature will be essential for close quarters operations demanding the utmost concealment of weapon employment.
Introducing the weapon into ranks did not fall short of controversies and confusions.
On March 26, just the day after General Knyazev publicly announced the news, the weapon’s original producer Heckler & Koch assured that it was not conducting any negotiations with the Ukrainian government, let alone signing any contracts.
Moreover, as a German entity, H&K was not even entitled to strike any deals with Kyiv, since Ukraine is not included in a “green list” of nations approved for arms sales by the German government, as the company’s spokesman Florian Bokermann told the Deutsche Welle.
However, as the police spokesman Shevchenko later specified, the MP5s delivered to Ukraine had been provided by Turkish government-run giant MKEK, which has been manufacturing them under license from H&K in various modifications since 1984.
Besides, the amount and value of this procurement remains a secret — as police chief Knyazev repeatedly said, this information is sensitive and restricted.
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