The Russian military industry has established the purchase of electronics, including products of large Western companies, through third countries, and Ukraine's allies must take additional steps to block these channels. This issue is addressed in a new paper by the Yermak-McFaul International Working Group On Russian Sanctions.
The document prepared by the group using research by the Kyiv School of Economics includes both conclusions previously published by various experts and new information on the ways Russia uses to evade sanctions and the amount of electronic components it buys to produce weapons and military equipment.
According to the paper, electronic components produced by 155 companies from Ukraine’s allied countries, including U.S. Analog Devices, Intel, and Texas Instruments, German Infineon Technologies, and Korean Samsung, were found in Russian weapons (or their fragments) captured by the Ukrainian military.
Russia imports almost all these electronic components through countries that haven’t imposed sanctions against it, mainly China and Hong Kong.
Although Russian imports of high-end electronics dropped immediately after the sanctions were introduced after the full-scale invasion, they recovered by the end of the year, partially due to "gray schemes" of supply of Western-made products and partially because other suppliers were found, including Chinese ones.
The imports have dropped again by 18% in the first quarter of this year, but the group’s experts cannot tell whether the sanctions proved to be effective or whether the Russians learned to conceal their purchases.
In order to limit this inflow and reduce Russia’s capabilities, the Yermak-McFaul International Working Group suggests the following measures should be taken:
- information exchange between the countries of the "sanctions coalition," including their customs offices, should be enhanced, and cooperation to investigate cases of sanctions evasion should be expanded;
- sanctions against Russian financial institutions should be expanded to impede payment for imports;
- authorities of all countries should engage directly with their companies and try to persuade them not to sell dual-use products to intermediaries working for Russia;
- the lists of dual-use products should be expanded and harmonized.