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10 August 2008: Russian troops near Khurcha, Republic of Georgia. The soldier on the far left of this photograph wears the controversial Yeger' camouflage pattern, which the Russian Ministry of the Interior is alleged to have stolen from the Finnish Defence Forces' new M/05 combat uniforms. [Image: 'Afro-European'/MilitaryPhotos.]
Both the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (Russian: Федеральная служба безопасности, trans. Federalnaya sluzhba bezopasnosti, FSB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Russian: Министерство внутренних дел, trans. Ministerstvo vnutrennikh del, MVD) issue regular army uniforms to their interal forces and special operations units. At the time of writing, the latest camouflage pattern to be issued to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is Flora, which is very effective in central Russia.
Unfortunately, a camouflage pattern that works well in the fields near Moscow isn't necessarily suitable to all of the diverse environments, in which Russian special forces are required to operate. For this reason most special operations units supplement their issue uniforms with commercially produced camouflage uniforms purchased by sponsors or out of their own pockets.
The commercially produced Yeger' (Russian: Егерь, 'huntsman') camouflage pattern, shown here, first came to public notice during the 2008 South Ossetia war. Yeger' is a four-colour camouflage, comprising irregular black, medium green and light green blocks on a wood brown background. Overall, it is very similar in appearance to Finnish M/05 woodland camouflage pattern.
Indeed, the resemblance between Yeger' and M/05 woodland has given rise to numerous claims that Russia has copied the Finnish camouflage pattern. The claims were outlined by Helsingen Sanomat — International Edition, in an article titled 'Russians under suspicion for having purloined camouflage design of Finnish Defence Forces' new combat outfits'.
The resemblance between the two camouflage patterns is undeniable; however, there are also significant differences between them. For example, there appears to be much more light green in the Russian pattern than there is in the Finnish M/05 woodland. There's also more of the medium green, for that matter; in fact, the Russian pattern seems to be denser, overall.
It is worth remarking, too, that the shapes in the Russian Yeger' pattern seem to have more irregular outlines than those seen in M/05. In M/05, there are almost no horizontal lines and very few vertical lines: most of the lines are inclined at an angle of about 45°. In Yeger', on the other hand, there are many horizontal lines, and the other angles are much less uniform than in M/05. There also appear to be more obvious curves than in M/05.
Based upon these observations, it cannot be said that Russian Yeger' is a direct copy of Finnish M/05 in the same way that Chinese Type 03 Plateau Camouflage is a direct copy of German Flecktarn, in which case there is a direct correspondence between the shapes of the two camouflage patterns. At most, Yeger' is an M/05 'lookalike'.
Still, it is difficult to say whether or not the strong resemblance between Yeger' and M/05 woodland camouflage constitutes an infringement of Finland's intellectual property rights. It would be a matter for the courts to decide.
kamouflage.net is grateful to CAMOTEST, for its invaluable contribution to this article.
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