British experts expose over 200 firms Russia uses to evade sanctions

British experts expose over 200 firms Russia uses to evade sanctions

Hundreds of Western and Russian companies are involved in the Kremlin's illegal schemes to dodge sanctions and ensure the covert supply to Russia of electronic components required for the production of weapons.

This was stated by Damien Spleeters, Deputy Director at the UK-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR), during hearings in the U.S. Senate, Ukrinform reports.

"We have so far confidenally idenfied more than 200 non-sanconed companies of interest—half of which are not Russian—linked to the acquision or transfer of semiconductors," the expert noted.

At the same time, he emphasized that all those companies either acquire or transfer semiconductors for Russian defense companies.

Read also: Ukrainian, British think tanks expose supplies of raw materials to Russia for ammo production

Spleeters noted that the data were collected during the study of hundreds of weapons samples used by the Russian Federation in Ukraine over the past two years. Experts have documented more than 10,000 semiconductors and identified more than 250 varieties of electronic elements produced in the West.

James Byrne, a representative from the British United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, stated during the hearings in the U.S. Senate that Russia is expanding procurement networks to evade sanctions imposed on microelectronics and other products in order to manufacture weapons for the war in Ukraine, for which it actively engages intelligence officers on foreign soil, and also bribes foreign citizens.

"Several recent cases in North America and Europe show that Russian procurement networks are active in our countries and in various other parts of the world," the expert noted.

He noted that during a recent investigation, RUSI together with the Dutch and German media discovered illegal procurement networks operating in Germany, Lithuania, and Hong Kong, providing supplies to Russia.

"Sometimes, these networks are operated by trained Russian intelligence officers and people working on their behalf. In other cases, it is trade for purely pecuniary purposes by people with few scruples," said Byrne.

He clarified that it is primarily about the illegal supply of microelectronics developed and manufactured in the West, which is used in the production of Russian drones, missiles, and other types of weapons. After all, even in the debris of Russian systems studied in Ukraine, recently manufactured advanced technologies were discovered, including those designed to facilitate artificial intelligence computations.

In addition, machine tools, ball bearings, carbon fiber and polymers, sensors, cameras, chemicals and many other kinds of goods are often purchased abroad and diverted to Russia’s military industrial complex to manufacture the weapons.

"As a result, the Kremlin’s military supply chains are forced to stretch across the globe, often starting in North America or Europe and ending in military factories across Russia," the expert noted.

RUSI released its first report on Russia's sanctions evasion in August 2022. It described in detail at least 450 different types of unique foreign-made components that the Russian Federation had illegally obtained for the production of 27 different types of weapons and military systems. Most of those components were produced by U.S.-based companies. This proved that Russia retained access to them through various schemes, despite the previously imposed U.S. sanctions.

As Ukrinform reported, since the outset of Russia’s war against Ukraine in 2014, Western democracies have introduced a wide list of sanctions against Russia in order to limit its ability to fuel its military machine. After a full-scale invasion in 2022, these sanctions were significantly expanded. Nevertheless, now the USA, UK, EU countries, and other international actors are exposing and restricting the activities of various international schemes Russia has been using to evade the existing sanctions.

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