RUSI report - 'Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia’s War Machine'

A shocking new report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) 'Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia’s War Machine' has revealed how extensively the Russian military depends on Western technology.

RUSI identifies a number of individuals/companies/ governments who are believed to be involved in the designing and manufacturing of components which have been acquired by the Russian military and are used in their military hardware.

The report also identifies some 450 components used in 27 Russian weapons systems - including cruise missiles, communications systems and electronic warfare complexes - manufactured in the US, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, France and Germany, that cannot be procured from Russia's domestic sources.

In shot is a wide-angle view of a Ukrainian town. The distinctive crosshairs of an Orlan-10 UAV occupy the centre of the screen. It is a Russian reconnaissance UAV designed to coordinate artillery strikes. The operator zooms in on an assortment of trucks; Ukrainian personnel can be seen gathering around them. The video camera is produced by Sony and mounted on a gimbal motor produced by Hextronik, based in the US. It zooms in smoothly to provide positive identifications of the targets. The Orlan-10’s flight control system which keeps it above the target is based on the STM32F103VC microcontroller from a Swiss company called STMicroelectronics. The UAV is powered by an engine from Japanese company Saito Seisakusho. Together, they make the Orlan-10 a reliable flying machine with an operational range of up to 120 kilometres. Its navigation chip is a u-blox Neo-M8 GNSS module, first identified in an Orlan-10 in 2018. The UAV’s coordinates are likely communicated to its operator via a radio-frequency agile transceiver produced by Analog Devices.

RUSI
Western Designed And Manufactured Components In A Russian Kill Chain

The majority of the at least 318 key components identified as originating from the U.S. come from 57 companies. Among these, the most prevalent were items produced by leading microelectronics manufacturers such as Analog Devices Inc, Texas Instruments, Maxim Integrated, Xilinx Inc, Microchip Technology Inc, ON Semiconductor, Altera Corporation, Intel Corporation, Atmel Corporation and Cypress Semiconductor.

Together, a total of 208 unique components produced by these 10 companies were recovered from 26 key weapons systems - including Iskander, Kalibr, and other missiles - used by the Russian armed forces.

Just one month after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the US Treasury designated over 30 individuals and companies allegedly procuring critical Western technology on behalf of Russian intelligence agencies.

Third country shipments

Transshipment through third countries is a common means of circumnavigating western sanctions. Microelectronic third-party distributors and wholesalers often operate from intermediary jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, meaning that components bound for Russia are sometimes legitimately supplied through trading entities domiciled outside of Russia itself.

RUSI gives the. example of SP Semiconductors Private Limited, a semiconductor manufacturer based in New Delhi, India, sent Infineon-branded integrated circuits to King-Pai Technology (HK) Co Ltd on 9 June 2021.

Later in the same month, King-Pai sent multiple transactions with similar goods descriptions to several Russian companies active in the military- industrial space, including Trade-Component and Radiant Electronic Components, both first sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2021 and Radioavtomatika, first sanctioned in 2022.

All companies have documented histories of providing microelectronics to the Russian military.

Conclusion

If Russia is to have this silicon lifeline severed, it is critical that governments:

• Review and strengthen existing export controls in their own countries and jurisdictions.

• Cooperate multinationally to identify and close down Russian covert procurement networks.

• Prevent sensitive microelectronics from being manufactured under licence in states supporting Russia.

• Discourage third countries and jurisdictions from facilitating re-export or transshipment of controlled goods to Russia.

"Russia is scrambling to procure what it can in bulk before the net closes. The time to act is now" - RUSI.


The full report is available here: https://static.rusi.org/RUSI-S...


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