Russia’s war machine runs on Western parts

Russia’s war machine runs on Western parts

Amy Mackinnon reports:

Shortly before noon on Aug. 19, 2023, a Russian cruise missile sliced past the golden onion domes and squat apartment blocks of the Chernihiv skyline in northern Ukraine. The Iskander-K missile slammed into its target: the city’s drama theater, which was hosting a meeting of drone manufacturers at the time of the attack. More than 140 people were injured and seven killed. The youngest, 6-year-old Sofia Golynska, had been playing in a nearby park.

Fragments of the missile recovered by the Ukrainian armed forces and analyzed by Ukrainian researchers found numerous components made by U.S. manufacturers in the missile’s onboard navigation system, which enabled it to reach its target with devastating precision. In December, Ukraine’s state anti-corruption agency released an online database of the thousands of foreign-made components recovered from Russian weapons so far.

Russia’s struggle to produce the advanced semiconductors, electrical components, and machine tools needed to fuel its defense industrial base predates the current war and has left it reliant on imports even amid its estrangement from the West. So when Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, major manufacturing countries from North America, Europe, and East Asia swiftly imposed export controls on a broad swath of items deemed critical for the Russian arms industry.

Russia quickly became the world’s most sanctioned country: Some 16,000 people and companies were subject to a patchwork of international sanctions and export control orders imposed by a coalition of 39 countries. Export restrictions were painted with such a broad brush that sunglasses, contact lenses, and false teeth were also swept up in the prohibitions. Even items manufactured overseas by foreign companies are prohibited from being sold to Russia if they are made with U.S. tools or software, under a regulation known as the foreign direct product rule. [Continue reading…]

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