The iconic 9x19mm Uzi submachine gun has been intermittently seen in Ukraine since the early months of the conflict. The earliest images of the Uzi in theatre, which we could find, date to the beginning of May 2022. The origins of the Uzis are currently unclear with a number of possibilities including Israeli IMI-made guns, Croatian EROs, surplus German Bundeswehr MP2A1s or perhaps most likely Belgian manufactured Uzis made under license by FN Herstal.
One of the earliest images of an Uzi in Ukraine appeared at the start of May 2022, with a Ukrainian combatant posing with an Uzi and a drone at what appears to be a range. 11 July, saw a group photo of International Legion members shared featuring one combatant holding an Uzi. Several days later on the 17 July a photo was shared of an international volunteer with an Uzi in the back of a vehicle. A month later a Ukrainian soldier was photographed holding a pair of Uzis.
On the 21 February 2023, a member of the Stugnabat unit, with the International Legion, shared a photo of a combatant with an Uzi. A Ukrainian infantry officer shared a video featuring himself firing two Uzis at one on 14 March. Subsequent photos shared online, seemingly taken at the same time, featuring the officer and the Uzis revealed he is with the 93rd Separate Mechanised Brigade. In early April another Ukrainian combatant shared a clip of himself on TikTok test firing an Uzi at an ad hoc range.
Research by OSINT researcher Ukraine Weapons Warfare has confirmed that at least three of the Uzis seen in Ukraine in early 2023 are of Belgian manufacture. Ukraine Weapons Warfare spoke to two Ukrainian combatants (those who had posted videos with Uzis) who confirmed that their guns had FN Herstal markings. FN Herstal acquired the license to manufacture the Uzi in 1958 with production of Belgian-made guns continuing into the early 1970s. As a result large numbers of Uzis purchased by European countries were made by FN, not IMI.
The Uzis haven’t appeared in any combat imagery and largely appear to be being used as personal defence weapons. They’re most often seen in photos from the range, away from the front line. Due to the iconic weapon’s notoriety they also appear to hold a novelty value for Ukrainian combatants.
Until we can get clear photos of markings or corroboration from users we can’t be certain if all of the Uzis in theatre were originally manufactured by FN Herstal. Similarly, it remains unclear which country or countries may have provided Uzis to Ukraine but we at least know that several of them were manufactured in Belgium.
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The UZI Submachine Gun, C. McNab (2011)
The UZI Submachine Gun Examined, D. Gaboury (2017)
Thanks to Ukraine Weapons Warfare