Chips made after the start of the war have been found in Russian drones. Chips have been found so far dating from the period before the invasion. Semiconductors come from America. “This is a turning point in the war.”
This is evidenced by a report by the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) research team. However, this finding does not show that sanctions are being circumvented, according to Damien Spleeters, Belgian deputy director of operations in CAR to our Dutch colleagues at AD. “The chips that were found were made in August, when this type of chip was still legal. In September, the chips were added to the US sanctions list.”
Stock is running out
It appears that the Russian military is looking for replacements for its stocks. AD has previously written about chips from kitchen and garden household items such as washing machines. That stock now looks like it’s running out, Spleeters believes. It’s the first time we find chips made after the invasion in March 2022. It’s a turning point in the war. We will see in the near future if the sanctions really have an effect.”
The three chips were found in the so-called ZALA Lancet, a drone that can be armed with high explosives.
Previously, it was not forbidden to export chips to Russia. This is because they are relatively simple semiconductors. So it took about a year and a half before sanctions were imposed on this genre. “A lot of people think that since the day the war started, nothing can ever be exported to Russia,” says Spleeters. In fact, it was more gradual.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry sees a complex challenge in chips. “Because of its reliance on Western electronic components, Russia uses an extensive network that resells its goods without the consent or knowledge of Western manufacturers,” the ministry said in a statement. The fact that chips are used for everything makes enforcement more complicated. “Many millions of chips are shipped annually and used for everything. It is almost impossible for exporters to know where each individual component ends up.”
A Dutch chip maker previously compared chips to screws. “They’re in just about everything. Chips are as common as wire. It’s almost impossible to control.” Due to the current penalties for this type of chip, checks are required.
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