TechDespite sanctions, Russia illegally imports $1.7bn worth of chips amid Ukraine conflict

Despite sanctions, Russia illegally imports $1.7bn worth of chips amid Ukraine conflict

Vladimir Putin - illustrative picture
Vladimir Putin - illustrative picture
Images source: © Getty Images | Contributor
12:03 PM EST, January 28, 2024

The sanctions and export control on Russia aimed to prevent Putin from accessing Western technology. This was important not only for slowing the growth of consumer technology, such as cars in Russia but primarily for interfering with the war efforts in Ukraine. By cutting off access to components from Europe and the U.S., it was hoped that Russians would be prevented from producing modern missiles, upgrading old designs, and improving the weapons already in use.

Even though sanctions on Russia have not been lifted and chip manufacturers maintain their legal compliance, Moscow illegally imported chips valued at $1.7 billion in 2023. The complexity of global supply chains makes identifying the source of illicitly procured devices difficult, as pointed out by Tech Spot.

By September 2023, it was projected that over half the imported semiconductors and integrated circuits would be from major companies like Intel, AMD, Analog Devices, Infineon Technologies, STMicroelectronics, and NXP Semiconductors. Bloomberg's data, however, lacks information regarding the entities responsible for exporting these technologies to Russia and fails to shed light on the chips' shipping locations or production dates.

Tech Spot observes that inefficient sanctions complicate tracking a component's supply chain. The global supply chain, particularly for chips frequently traded among various sellers, is widely considered too complex to monitor effectively. Notably, many technologies likely found their way to Russia via re-exportation from countries like China, Turkey, or the United Arab Emirates. Despite European and U.S. attempts to obstruct these transportation pathways, the efforts seem to have borne no significant impact.

Bloomberg maintains that technology companies should not be blamed in the proceedings involving the illegal importation of $1.7 billion worth of chips. These manufacturers stand by their sanction compliance and adherence to international guidelines. In contrast, it is speculated that Russia may employ its intelligence services to create networks of illegal smugglers tasked with obtaining crucial components for the nation.

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