Despite sanctions, the components made by Intel, AMD, Samsung, and others were founded in Russian weapons in Ukraine

New evidence of loopholes in the sanctions regime were discovered by a group of international experts working within The International Working Group on Russian Sanctions. As stated in the research, despite the sanctions, Western countries continue to help Russia in the war, intentionally or not. The components from many well-known manufacturers such as Intel, AMD, Samsung, and others were discovered in freshly made Russian weaponry and military equipment, used in the invasion of Ukraine. 

AIN.Capital tells about the most devastating facts from the document.

Western parts continue to enable Russia in its war against Ukraine

In one of the most recent attacks, on June 13, 2023, a Russian Kh-101 missile killed 11 people, including one child, in a five-story residential building in Kryvyi Rih. This missile carried 53 critical components sourced and imported from democratic countries. 

An analysis of 1,057 foreign components of Russian military equipment produced by 155 companies and a detailed dataset on Russian trade pinpoints that Russia’s military supply chain has continued to access Western critical technologies since the beginning of war, throughout 2022, and the first quarter of 2023.

This missile, mentioned above, represents just one item in Russia’s arsenal, which has committed a number of similarly atrocious acts. Since February 22, 2022, Russians have launched more than 6,000 rockets against Ukraine, hitting 3,387 civic objects and killing 1,734 civilians.

After 15 months of war and tens of thousands of sanctions, how could components produced by democratic countries be the key enabler of such missile attacks on Ukrainian civilians? 

What western share parts were sold in Russia

The study identified that critical components found on the battlefield since April 2022 belong to a wide range of weapons and missiles, including 

  • Islander-K and Kalibr missiles; 
  • drones including Orlan and Korsar; 
  • armored vehicles and artillery including T-72 tanks, Tornado-G rockets, Typhoon-K vehicles; 
  • helicopters, electronic warfare stations, electronic warfare equipment, small electronic devices, and others. 

The critical components include microchips, microprocessors, transistors, memory devices, voltage regulators, capacitors, and transceivers, among others. These 155 companies – whose products were identified in Russian weapons – accounted for $2.9 billion of critical component sales to Russia in 2022. 

Despite sanctions, imports of these components have not stopped; after the initial drop of imports in April-May 2022, the volumes recovered to levels commensurate with trade from before the beginning of the war. Moreover, the delivery has almost entirely been routed via third countries, whose share of indirect sales rose from 54% in 2021 to 98% in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

The top 5 manufacturers of spare parts critical for Russian weapons are American companies

The largest number of components are produced by the US companies:

  • Analog Devices, 
  • Texas Instruments, 
  • Microchip Technology, 
  • Intel, 
  • AMD.

Also, among the biggest suppliers are German Infineon Technologies and Korean Samsung.

Despite sanctions -3

By the end of last year, imports of critical components had fully recovered and, in fact, risen above pre-sanction levels for key items such as semiconductors. 

The export of US critical components to Russia produced by Intel accounted for over $700 million in 2022, increasing from $500 million. Other estimates include $500 million for Samsung, $190 million for Analog Devices, $180 million for Texas Instruments, and $160 million each for AMD and Xilnx.

Despite sanctions -2

Who delivers these components to Russia to circumvent sanctions

In the fourth quarter of 2022, more than three-fourths of sales to Russia were conducted via an intermediary in China, while in 2021, the corresponding amount had only been 22%. Consistent with earlier findings, the products are manufactured outside of China to a considerable extent.

While the sellers to Russia mainly are from China, a small proportion also are in the European Union, South Korea, Vietnam, and Turkey. The producers are China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the EU, and Taiwan.

Despite sanctions -1

Why is it important

Almost all of Russia’s modern military hardware is dependent on complex electronics imported from the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, and China. In some instances, these components are civilian dual-use goods that can be procured commercially and whose transfer to Russia is harder to constrain via export controls.

While Russian weapons continue to contain these components, it is uncertain whether the companies producing these components were aware of their products» ultimate use by the Russian military. A Nikkei investigation has found that, since the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022, 75% of the US obtained by Russia were supplied through Hong Kong or China, while the manufacturers state that they have suspended all operations and trade with Russia.

Authorities should engage with the companies whose products are being exported to Russia. Many large companies have extensive risk management and compliance structures which would allow them to minimize the risk of unknowing violations of export controls. Companies should be very interested in avoiding having their products identified in Russian weaponry found on the battlefield or being used for attacks on Ukrainian civilian.