The American small arms website Thefirearmblog.com publishes a review of the Tabor rifles used by the Ukrainian armed forces. Website reporter Matthew Moss notes that since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the end of February 2022, considerable number of Fort-22 rifles, the local Ukrainian version of Tavor rifles, have been observed, mainly by internal security forces and special forced of the Ukrainian Army and National Guard.
״Within 48 hours of the Russian offensive, Russian forces shared videos from what was said to be a captured Ukrainian National Guard depot. The video shows more than a dozen Fort-221s piled on top of crates. Around the same time, they were seen to be equipping Ukrainian forces said to be linked to the Azov Brigade it is difficult to tell where the rifles being used and by which units,” says the review.
The rifles are often seen being used as the personal weapon of snipers and marksmen, alongside their precision rifles. The majority of the Fort bullpups seen in photographs appear to be chambered in 5.45x39mm. They are most often seen equipped with Meprolight M5 and M21 sights.
The local Tavor rifles are manufactured at the government "Fort" factory located in the western Ukraine. Moss tells that from a survey of Fort’s website, we know that IWI weapons first began to appear in the company’s product lists in late 2008 following an agreement to potentially license manufacture IWI products in Ukraine. This included pistols, submachine guns, rifles and the Negev light machine gun.
Back in 2011-12, it was reported that the Tavor was being produced in Ukraine and the guns appeared at a number of trade shows with Fort markings. However, it is unclear whether the weapons were manufactured in Ukraine, merely assembled there or if they were produced in Israel with some Fort markings and shipped to Ukraine. The nature of the partnership is undisclosed but it has been suggested that if Fort gained substantial sales for the weapons then further manufacture may have been transferred to Ukraine.
In 2014, the Ukraine Army announced that the Fort-221 and Fort-223/224 carbines would be adopted for arming the Ukrainian army, with an initial 500 ordered. While no further orders were publicly recorded, we know that Police and internal security forces were issued the rifle as of 2016. The adoption of the rifles by the Ministry of Internal Affairs units and the Ukrainian National Guard (which falls under the Ministry’s control) may be explained by the fact the Ministry owns Fort.
Moss notes that further survey of Fort’s website shows that the Tavor series of rifles ceased to be listed on the page in March 2021 and IWI and Meprolight were removed from the site’s ‘Partners’ section in April 2021. Perhaps suggesting the end of the IWI-Fort partnership.