Reuters: Russia still importing Western electronics for missiles via Turkey, Hong Kong, Estonia

Moscow continues to import Western technologies despite various sanctions and restrictions placed by producers, Reuters investigates.

According to the agency, Russia’s tech import volume between April and November reached $2.6 billion, while at least $777 million was used to purchase products of Western manufacturers. Reuters notes that Moscow particularly obtained microchips produced by US Intel, AMD, Texas Instruments Inc, Analog Devices Inc, as well as Germany’s Infineon AG. These microchips are used to build missiles to strike Ukraine’s territory, Reuters adds.

The news agency investigated this story together with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and discovered that

semiconductors and other tech continues to flow into Russia via Turkey, Hong Kong, and Estonia.

In particular, Turkey’s Azu International Ltd Sti registered in March 2022 as a venture that sells IT-products in bulk started supplying US spare parts for computers to Russia the next week. The investigators learnt that the company exported and computers and parts for them to Russia worth at least $20 million.

A co-founder of Azu International was Turkish national Gokturk Agvaz who also owns Smart Impex GmbH in Germany, a company that supplies microchips, Reuters writes. This business is no longer exporting electronics to Russia due to EU sanctions but it still sends products to Turkey. Before the war in Ukraine broke out, Smart Impex GmbH used to export the same tech products to Russia that Azu International does now.

According to the agency, Turkey’s Bion Group Ltd Sti now also supplies electronics to Russia. Fortap, a business registered in St. Petersburg this April, is listed as one of its clients. The company imported electronics from the US worth at least $138 million, the investigation reveals.

Journalists also discovered that Hong Kong’s Pixel Devices Ltd supplies semiconductors and other products to Russia. In April-November, the company exported at least $120 million worth of electronics to Russia, including Intel and AMD products worth at least $50 million, Reuters reported.

Estonia’s Elmec Trade Oü, the investigation shows, sent at least $17 million worth of electronics to Russia in April-November. Elmec Trade CEO Alexander Fomenko told Reuters that the company observes all the export restrictions, while most orders fulfilled now were placed last year.

In early December, The New York Times discovered that some of Russia’s cruise missiles launched at Ukraine in late November were produced several months after the EU imposed sanctions aimed at cutting Moscow off the tech products it needs to produce these rockets.

The fact that Russia continues to build new-age guided missiles such as X-101 shows that Moscow either has found a way to bypass sanctions and purchase semiconductors and other parts it needs or it still has a sizable stock of these components, one of the researchers noted.

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