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'Silicon Lifeline': Report Reveals Western Tech Leads Russian Weapons in Ukraine

According to a report by the UK's Royal United Services Institute, microelectronics manufactured by the United States and its allies are key components of the Russian weapons systems used in the invasion of Ukraine.

RUSI Report,Silicon Lifelines: Western Electronics as the Heart of Russia's War MachineMore than 450 Foreign-Made Components Recovered It states that Russian weapons were found in Ukraine. The report's authors say Moscow acquired key technology from companies in the United States, Europe and Asia years before the invasion.

Ukraine says Russia launched more than 3,650 of her missiles in her first five months of the war, guiding rockets into its territory. Most of the weapons rely heavily on Western-made microelectronics technology, according to Gary Somerville, a co-author of the report and a Research Fellow in RUSI's Open Source Intelligence and Analytics Research Group.

"In practice, we do not appear to have the ability to reproduce many of these important microelectronics on at least the same level of sophistication and scale. It's absolutely essential for things like precision-guided munitions with sophisticated processing units," Somerville told VOA.

This includes one of Russia's most advanced weapons, the Russian Includes the Iskander 9M727 cruise missile. RUSI researchers recovered several missiles from the field in Ukraine and examined the microelectronics inside.

They sourced components from Western countries such as digital signal processors, flash memory modules, and static RAM modules manufactured by US-based companies such as Texas Instruments, Advanced Micro Devices, and Cypress Semiconductor. I found some. , Dutch and German companies.

His Kh-101 cruise missile of Russia, some targeting the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, was found to contain 31 foreign-made components.

General Chips

All microelectronics companies cited in the report said they had complied with trade sanctions and stopped selling components to Russia. says. There is no indication in the report that the company has violated export control laws.

"How does Russia get this? I've actually looked at many of these components, and they're very mediocre, in many ways ubiquitous, electronic You can find it practically in all sorts of electronic devices such as microwave ovens, dishwashers, etc.

Such microelectronics were freely available before Russia invaded Ukraine.

However, RUSI also identified at least 81 components classified as “dual-use” by the US Department of Commerce and subject to US export controls.

These contain high-performance CMOS static RAM microchips, originally manufactured by US-based Cypress Semiconductor, that allow Russian special forces to locate and coordinate precision artillery and airstrikes. It was found inside a handheld navigation system used to estimate .

According to the RUSI report, "The component is a high-speed, ultra-low-power memory chip148 classified as a dual-use item for export."

His two-thirds of the foreign-made parts found in Russian weapon systems were manufactured by US-based companies. Japan was the second largest supplier.

Export embargo

Many of the microelectronics in the weapons are decades old, and many have been banned since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February. to Russia, where several countries have banned the export of such parts.

Somerville pointed to Russia's history of using elaborate methods to procure technology, he said.

“When we do our due diligence checks, we use a lot of front companies that look legitimate on the surface, but they may actually be big companies or they may be affiliated in some way. It's actually a Russian company that is a member of the military-industrial complex," he said.

This report shows how Russia uses fake end-user certificates and transshipment companies based in third countries, including Hong Kong, to obscure final destinations. is explained in detail.

It is a Russian customs record showing a company imported his $600,000 worth of electronics made by Texas Instruments through a Hong Kong-based distributor in March 2021. is quoting. Seven months after him, the same company imported another $1.1 million worth of Xilinx microelectronics, according to RUSI.

U.S. and allied sanctions imposed on Russian arms manufacturers and the companies that supply them must be strengthened, Somerville said.

"The ability to have sanctions and effective enforcement of these sanctions will raise the cost for Russia to acquire these particular microelectronics," he said.

The report's authors said Russia is currently busy procuring large amounts of microelectronics, and any disruption to supplies could permanently weaken the Russian military. ing.

Some of the information in this report was provided by Reuters.