Russia Is Importing Western Weapons Technology, Bypassing Sanctions...via Armenia

21.04.23 12:40

In the wake of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the war that ensued, the Russian military machine's technical backwardness was simply outrageous in comparison to the advances in military technology.  Ukraine receives the latest weaponry as Western aid, which has helped it successfully fight a power far superior in population, size and resources.


It is difficult to understand what the Russian leadership was counting on when it started this war. Taking a historical analogy, this would have been analogous to the situation if at the end of the 19th century the Zulus wanted to defeat an enemy armed with spears, who at the time were armed with the most advanced rifles and machine guns. However, it should be borne in mind that the suicidal war was pushed by the Armenian lobby, which has a huge influence in the Kremlin and lives by primitive and outmoded categories of the same 19th century. This included building their national state on the basis of false historical myths and by redrawing borders. A hopelessly outdated tool in the age of globalisation, separatism, which the Armenian lobby maniacally continues to support everywhere, has been used as a pretext for war against Ukraine.


This war has dragged on. The Russian Federation has suffered one defeat after another, losing the Ukrainian territories occupied in the first days of aggression. Instead of realising its fatal mistake and trying to end the war, the Russian leadership is now trying with all its might to win the hopeless "meat grinder".


And the Armenian lobby's role in the continuation of the war can also be seen here in Moscow. After all, it is obvious that it is only possible to get out of the war by returning Donbass and Crimea to Ukraine, as well as by eliminating all other Russian-backed separatist projects in the post-Soviet space. And after that, the Armenian nationalists will have to forget forever not only about "Artsakh" but also about Georgian Abkhazia, which they are turning into "Maritime Armenia" through separatism, ethnic cleansing and mass settlement.


Today, Russia is not only pelting the Ukrainian army with "cannon fodder", but is using every weapon available. The Russian Federation is not only mothballing "weapons scrap" from World War II, but is also trying to establish at least some production of modern weapons by obtaining the necessary high-tech components, particularly chips, illegally, circumventing sanctions.


Here again, the Russian aggressors are aided by Armenia, which has become the main channel for Russia to obtain Western military technology bypassing sanctions and, consequently, to continue the war in Ukraine. In particular, the authoritative New York Times recently wrote about this in an article entitled "Russia Is Importing Western Weapons Technology, Bypassing Sanctions".. 


The paper states, in particular, the following:


“Late last month, American and European Union officials traded information on millions of dollars’ worth of banned technology that was slipping through the cracks of their defenses and into Russian territory.


Senior tax and trade officials noted a surge in chips and other electronic components being sold to Russia through Armenia, Kazakhstan and other countries, according to slides from the March 24 meeting obtained by The New York Times. And they shared information on the flow of eight particularly sensitive categories of chips and other electronic devices that they have deemed as critical to the development of weapons, including Russian cruise missiles that have struck Ukraine.


As Ukraine tries to repel Russia from its territory, the United States and its allies have been fighting a parallel battle to keep the chips needed for weapons systems, drones and tanks out of Russian hands.


But denying Russia access to chips has been a challenge, and the United States and Europe have not made a clear victory. While Russia’s ability to manufacture weaponry has been diminished because of Western sanctions adopted more than a year ago, the country is still gaining circuitous access to many electronic components.


The result is devastating: As the United States and the European Union rally to furnish Ukrainians with weapons to keep fighting against Russia, their own technology is being used by Russia to fight back.


American officials argue that the sweeping sanctions they have imposed in partnership with 38 other governments have severely damaged Russia’s military capacity, and raised the cost to Russia to procure the parts it needs.


There is no doubt that the trade restrictions are making it significantly harder for Russia to obtain technology that can be used on the battlefield, much of which is designed by firms in the United States and allied countries.


Direct sales of chips to Russia from the United States and its allies have plummeted to zero. U.S. officials say Russia has already blown through much of its supply of its most accurate weapons and has been forced to substitute lower-quality or counterfeit parts that make its weaponry less accurate.


Imports of Western technology: Banned technological goods find their way into Russian missiles, raising questions about the effectiveness of Western sanctions imposed in 2022.


But trade data shows that other countries have stepped in to provide Russia with some of what it needs. After dropping off sharply immediately after the Ukrainian invasion, Russia’s chip imports crept back up, particularly from China. Imports between October and January were 50 percent or more of median prewar levels each month, according to tracking by Silverado Policy Accelerator, a think tank.


Sarah V. Stewart, Silverado’s chief executive, said the export controls imposed on Russia had disrupted pre-existing supply chains, calling that “a really positive thing.” But she said Russia was “still continuing to get quite a substantial amount” of chips.


As Russia has tried to get around restrictions, U.S. officials have steadily ratcheted up their rules, including adding sanctions on dozens of companies and organizations in Russia, Iran, China, Canada and elsewhere. The United States has also expanded its trade restrictions to include toasters, hair dryers and microwaves, all of which contain chips, and set up a “disruptive technology strike force” to investigate and prosecute illicit actors trying to acquire sensitive technology.


But the illicit trade in chips is proving hard to police given the ubiquity of semiconductors. Companies shipped 1.15 trillion chips to customers globally in 2021, adding to a huge worldwide stockpile. China, which is not part of the sanctions regime, is pumping out increasingly sophisticated chips.


So far, the Russian military appears to have been relying on a large stockpile of electronics and weaponry it accumulated before the invasion. But that supply may be drying up, making it more urgent for Russia to obtain new shipments.


A report issued Tuesday by Conflict Armament Research, an independent group that examines Russian weaponry recovered from the battlefield, revealed the first known example of Russia’s making weapons with chips manufactured after the invasion began.….


As the documents from the March meeting show, U.S. and European officials have become increasingly concerned that Russia is obtaining American and European goods by rerouting them through Armenia, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.


One document marked with the seal of the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security said that in 2022, Armenia imported 515 percent more chips and processors from the United States and 212 percent more from the European Union than in 2021. Armenia then exported 97 percent of those same products to Russia, the document said.»


Armenia has become the main channel of support for Russian aggression and war in Ukraine. Without the "Armenian loophole", Russia would have long ago depleted its stockpile of high-tech weapons and would have been forced to make peace and de-occupy the Ukrainian territories. This will happen sooner or later, but at a much greater cost. Armenia, by providing channels to circumvent sanctions, continues to support the bloodshed and is responsible for the deaths of Ukrainian civilians from Russian shelling.




Varden Tsulukidze

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