It’s an open secret: Many IT components from Western corporations such as AMD, EPCOS, Intel and Infineon as well as its subsidiary Cypress are fueling Putin’s war against Ukraine, despite extensive sanctions. The technicians there keep discovering chips and other components from such semiconductor manufacturers in the remains of deadly cruise missiles such as the Kh-101 aka Kodiak, Kalibr and Iskander, as well as in the hypersonic missile Kinschal. Just one example: In a Kodiak rocket, among other things, there was an Infineon chip with the product number CY7C1069G30-10ZSXI, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS).
Deliveries despite sanctions – until today
According to the report, such products have tariff number HS 85423245 at customs. The EU has put such semiconductors on its sanctions list against Russia. They are also listed in a special table by sanctions officer David O’Sullivan as 38 “high priority battlefield objects,” along with other Western products used by Moscow in the war against Ukraine. In order to trace how such elements got into the Russian missiles, the FAS, together with the Norwegian sanctions specialist Erlend Björtvedt, tracked down one of these microchips.
The expert heads the consulting firm Corisk and investigates violations of the current sanctions against Russia on behalf of the Helsinki Committee, a civil society human rights organization. He relies on publicly accessible international customs data. This procedure is considered serious and has repeatedly served to prove relevant deliveries to Russia. According to the FAS, Björtvedt’s research has shown that Infineon products in the relevant customs category are still pouring “in a broad stream to Russia” despite all the sanctions. Within a very short time, the expert came across 150,000 relevant chips from the Neubiberg group.
“A Maze of Intermediaries”
According to the newspaper, the data show “a maze of intermediaries”. When sending Infineon semiconductors to Russia, around 60 senders from eleven countries appeared. In none of them is recognizable from where he got the parts from the German manufacturer. But it also turned out: “Most of the end suppliers of Russian customers were based in China.” The Russian partner state thus serves “as a central hub for circumventing sanctions in this sector”. Taiwan and Thailand followed at some distance. In addition, Turkey and the Caucasus countries are considered transshipment points through which electronic components for computers and weapons go to Russia.
Infineon CEO Jochen Hanebeck described it to the FAS as “depressing and difficult to bear” that his company’s products “are misused for military purposes by Russia, despite the best precautionary measures”. The group is not responsible for this, however, since it has cut all contacts in the country and with distributors and is pursuing traces of deliveries there. That’s not enough for Björtvedt: Infineon also uses international customs data. Even with a simple routine check, the ricochets should be “difficult to overlook”. Sudden increases in individual Russian buyers such as the electronics and aviation group Itelma should have set the alarm bells ringing among the newcomers.
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