US taxpayers invest in Russian arms manufacturer

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A legacy from the end of the cold war, and probably unbeknownst to most Americans: through a European bank, the US government holds a minority intrest in the share capital of Russian arms manufacturer KAMAZ. This company produces armed personnel carriers and trucks that have been used by both Russia's Crimean invasion force and the Syrian army. The trucks also serve as a carrier for surface-to-air-missiles. The US have invested over $19 billion through this bank, and even makes a little profit on the arms sales.

Mutually dependent

Back in early 1991, the French government suggested launching the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD. It would raise capital in Western Europe, supplement that with loans from other banks and thus invest substantial amounts in the infrastructure of former Warsaw-pact nations. It would help these nations develop and thus create a mutual dependency between Eastern- and Western European countries. Most European countries are shareholders, including Russia, but the USA with it's 10% share is the single largest one.

The EBRD's initial focus was infrastructure and energy, but nowadays it even invests in Baltic banks that help affluent Russians to send their assets offshore. In 1995, the KAMAZ plant near the Wolga river in Russia was hit by a catastrophic fire. The EBRD immediately provided KAMAZ with a $100 million emergency loan to rebuild the factory. At that time, it was already supplying the Russian army.

In 2010, the EBRD and German carmaker Daimler decided to buy op to 15% of KAMAZ shares (with 4% en 11% respectively). The EBRD does not publish detailed annual reports or respond to inquiries, but from Daimler's annual reports we can establish that the EBRD's share in KAMAZ is worth over $430 million. 10% of that belongs to the US. Daimler intended to closely cooperate with KAMAZ, but given the recent unrest appears to refrain from that. 

Victory Day Parade

KAMAZ produces the Typhoon, a military vehicle that was first shown to the public during the 2014 Victory Day Parade in Moscow, a celebration of Nazi Germany's capitulation. It can safely transport up to 18 combat troops and it sports a machine gun and a grenade launcher. The Typhoons make their entrance at 43 minutes.

As Rostec, the company that oversees Russian arms sales puts it, KAMAZ has facilities in Iran as well. 

Weapons catalogue

Furthermore, KAMAZ produces trucks that have been filmed by VICE as they transported troops into the Crimea, during its forceful annexation by Russia.

Similar trucks are in use with the Syrian army. KAMAZ also has a production facility near Damascus.

The largest co-investor in KAMAZ is Rostec, which owns nearly half of the company. The US government imposed sanctions on the firm and it's director Sergey Chemezov as a punishment for Russia's invasion of the Crimea, but indirectly it invests, together with Rostec, in the very company that made the invasion succeed.

Through its subsidiary RosOboronExport, Russia sells a range of weapons, from fighter planes to tanks and missile systems, to any party that US-aligned countries are unwillig to provide with advanced weapons.

It's online catalogue and introductory movie reveal that it also sells BUK-missile systems which allegedly shot down flight MH17. The Dutch government invests alongside the US in the EBRD and KAMAZ, with a 2,5% share