Chips made after the start of the war have been found in Russian killer drones. Chips found so far date from the time before the invasion. The semiconductors come from America. “This is a tipping point in the war.”
This is evident from a report by research team Conflict Armament Research (CAR). However, this finding does not demonstrate that the sanctions are being circumvented, according to Damien Spleeter, deputy director of operations at CAR. “The chips 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
The Russian army is apparently looking for alternatives to its own stock. Earlier this newspaper wrote about chips from home-garden-and-kitchen appliances such as washing machines. That stock now seems to be running out, Spleeter thinks. “It is the first time we find chips made after the invasion in March 2022. It is a tipping point in the war. We will see in the near future whether the sanctions actually have an effect.”
The three chips were found in so-called Lancet loitering, a drone that can be armed with high explosives.
Previously, it was therefore not forbidden to export chips to Russia. This is because they are relatively simple semiconductors. It therefore took almost a year and a half before sanctions were imposed on this type. “Many people think that from the day the war started, nothing could be exported to Russia at all,” says Spleeter. “In reality, it was much more gradual.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sees a complex challenge in the chips. “Because of its dependence on Western electronic components, Russia uses an extensive network that resells its goods without the approval or knowledge of Western manufacturers,” the ministry said through a spokesperson. The fact that chips are used for everything makes enforcement even more complex. “Many millions of chips are shipped every year and used for everything. It is an almost impossible task for exporters to know where each individual component ends up.”
A Dutch chip manufacturer previously compared chips with screws. “They are almost everywhere. Chips are as common as a wire. It is almost impossible to check.” Due to the current sanctions on this type of chip, it will have to be checked.
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and don’t miss a thing of the stars.