May 21, 2024

Westside People

Complete News World

Russia imports Western weapons technology and bypasses sanctions

Russia imports Western weapons technology and bypasses sanctions

Late last month, American and European officials shared information about millions of dollars worth of embargoed technology that was slipping through the cracks of their defenses into Russian territory.

Top tax and trade officials have noted an increase in chips and other electronic components being sold to Russia via Armenia, Kazakhstan and other countries, according to slides from the March 24 meeting obtained by The New York Times. They shared information about the influx of eight particularly sensitive categories of chips and other electronic devices that they deemed crucial to weapons development, including Russian cruise missiles, that have struck Ukraine.

As Ukraine tries to drive Russia off its soil, the United States and its allies are fighting a parallel battle to keep the chips needed for weapons systems, drones, and tanks out of Russia’s hands.

But denying Russia access to the chips is a challenge, and the United States and Europe have not scored a clear victory. While Russia’s ability to manufacture weapons has been diminished by Western sanctions adopted more than a year ago, the country still has indirect access to many electronic components.

The result has been devastating: As the United States and the European Union mobilize to supply the Ukrainians with weapons to continue the fight against Russia, Russia is using their own technology to fight back.

U.S. officials argue that the sweeping sanctions they have imposed in partnership with 38 other governments have severely damaged Russia’s military capability, and raised the cost for Russia to buy the parts it needs.

“My view is that we’ve been very effective in impeding Russia’s ability to maintain and reconfigure a military force,” Alan Estevez, who oversees US export controls in the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, said in an interview in March. .

“We know this is hard, hard work,” Mr. Estevez added. “They adapt. We adapt to their adaptations.”

There is no doubt that trade restrictions make it significantly more difficult for Russia to obtain technology that can be used on the battlefield, much of which is designed by companies in the United States and allied countries.

See also  Unilever separates Ben & Jerry's and cuts 7,500 jobs

Direct sales of chips to Russia from the United States and its allies have fallen to zero. US officials say Russia has already run out of supplies of its most accurate weapons and has had to replace low-quality or imitation parts that make its weapons less accurate.

But trade data shows that other countries have stepped in to provide Russia with some of what it needs. After a sharp decline immediately after the Ukrainian invasion, Russian chip imports have rebounded, especially from China. Imports between October and January were 50 percent or more of average prewar levels each month, according to the Silverado Policy Accelerator, a tracker think tank.

Silverado CEO Sarah V. Stewart said export controls on Russia have disrupted pre-existing supply chains, calling that “a really positive thing.” But it said Russia “continues to get a significant amount” of the chips.

“It’s really a very, very large, very complex supply chain network and it’s not necessarily transparent,” Ms. Stewart said. “Chips are really everywhere.”

As Russia has tried to get around the restrictions, US officials have steadily tightened their rules, including adding sanctions on dozens of companies and organizations in Russia, Iran, China, Canada and elsewhere. The US has also expanded its trade restrictions to toasters, hair dryers and microwaves, all of which contain chips, and has created a “disruptive technology offensive force” to investigate and prosecute illicit actors trying to obtain sensitive technology.

But the illicit chip trade has proven difficult to control due to the ubiquity of semiconductors. comp 1.15 trillion chips shipped to global customers in 2021, adding to a huge global inventory. China, which is not part of the sanctions regime, is injecting increasingly sophisticated chips.

The Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents major chip companies, said it was partnering with the US government and other parties to combat illegal trade in semiconductors, but controlling its flow had been very difficult.

“We have strict protocols in place to remove bad actors from our supply chains, but with around one trillion chips sold globally each year, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch,” the league said in a statement.

See also  Dow futures: market rebound; Key metric in Friday's jobs report

So far, the Russian military seems to have been relying on a large stockpile of electronics and weapons that had accumulated before the invasion. But that supply could dry up, making it more urgent for Russia to get new shipments.

A report was released Tuesday By Conflict Armament Research, an independent group that examines Russian weapons recovered from the battlefield, has revealed the first known example of Russia making weapons from chips manufactured after the invasion began.

Three identical chips, made by a US company in an overseas factory, were found in Lancet drones recovered from several locations in Ukraine this past February and March, according to Damien Spleeters, who led the CAR investigation.

Mr. Spleeters said his group did not disclose the manufacturer of the chip while it was working with the company to track how the product ended up in Russia.

These chips were not necessarily an example of an export control violation, said Spleeters, because the US did not issue restrictions on this specific type of chip until September. He said the chips were manufactured in August and may have shipped shortly thereafter.

But he saw their presence as evidence that Russia’s large stockpile of pre-war electronics was depleted. “We’ll now start to see if the controls and penalties are going to be effective,” Spleeters said.

The parent company of the company that designed the drone, the Kalashnikov Group, a major Russian arms manufacturer, has publicly challenged the technological limitations imposed by the West.

“It is impossible to isolate Russia from the entire global electronic component base,” said Alan Luzhnikov, head of the group, He said in an interview in Russian In the past year, according to a translation of philg A report from the Center for Strategic and International Relations, which is a think tank. “It is a fantasy to think otherwise.”

That quote included “some noise,” Gregory Allen, one of the report’s authors, said at an event in December. But, he added, “Russia will try and do everything it can to get around these export controls. Because for them, the stakes are incredibly high.”

See also  Stocks making the biggest moves after hours: EBay, Allbirds, and more

As documents from the March meeting show, US and European officials have become increasingly concerned that Russia is acquiring US and European goods by rerouting them through Armenia, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.

One of the documents bearing the seal of the US Bureau of Industry and Security stated that in 2022, Armenia imported 515 percent more chips and processors from the United States and 212 percent more from the European Union than in 2021. Then Armenia exported 97 percent of these chips and said Doc same products for Russia.

In another document, the Bureau of Industry and Security identified eight categories of chips and components that are critical to Russian weapons development, including one called the field programmable gate assembly, which was found in one model of the Russian cruise missile, the KH-101.

Intelligence sharing between the United States and Europe is part of a nascent but extensive effort to reduce the leakage of such items to Russia. While the United States has deeper experience with sanctions enforcement, the European Union lacks central intelligence, customs and law enforcement capabilities.

The United States and the European Union recently dispatched officials to countries that were shipping more to Russia, in an effort to reduce that trade. Mr. Estevez said the recent visit to Turkey had persuaded that government to halt shipments to Russia through its free trade zone, as well as serving Russian and Belarusian planes at Turkish airports.

Biden administration officials say shipments to Russia and Belarus of the electronic equipment they targeted fell 41 percent between 2021 and 2022, as the United States and its allies expanded their restrictions globally.

said Matthew S.

“But there are still certain regions of the world that are used to deliver these materials to Russia,” he said. “This is a problem that we are laser-focusing on.”

John Ismay Contribute to the preparation of reports.