Paul van Gerven
15 August

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has identified 80 export-controlled electronic components in 27 Russian military systems that were captured or recovered in the Ukraine. The findings indicate that Russia is critically dependent on foreign-made electronics and that Western sanctions aren’t airtight, the British think tank writes in a report.

In total over 450 Western components were found in the weapons, communications equipment and other systems. A large part of these devices were developed for civilian purposes, but 80 of them have been designated as ‘dual use’, meaning they can be used for both civil and military purposes. Their export is controlled through the Wassenaar List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.

Sertal
February 2022 screenshot of a Russian website offering Western electronic components, many of which are acquired through third parties. Source: RUSI report

Following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the US and Europe imposed additional sanctions, which after the invasion of Ukraine have been expanded. In most cases, it’s not clear when Russia acquired the controlled components – many of them have been in production for years or even decades.

Over two thirds of the components are produced by US firms. Companies from Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands make up the bulk of the remaining suppliers. Of the 14 Dutch chips, 10 were manufactured by NXP. Most prevalent were pressure sensors in flight controllers for drones, along with RF transistors in radio sets and navigation equipment and an export-controlled microcontroller. Two more components are manufactured by Nexperia. The origin of the remaining two chips is not known.

NXP has told media that it always has complied with international regulations and will continue to do so. Most of its components involved are sold through international distributors.