(Bloomberg) -- Russian military systems depend highly on microelectronics components designed and produced in the US, Europe and east Asia, according to a report published Monday based on an examination of the remains of equipment used by the Kremlin’s forces in Ukraine.
The report by the Royal United Services Institute in London inspected 27 weapon systems including state-of-the art cruise missiles and drones that were used since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February. It found at least 450 foreign-made components that were critical to their operation.
Putin has acknowledged his domestic industry’s dependence on foreign technology since the start of the war, and signed a law in June that allows the import of electronics without the patent owner’s approval. International sanctions banning the sale of semiconductors and dual-use technology, which has both military and commercial applications, have aimed to deter Russia from using such equipment in weapons.
Russia’s military has used a huge amount of fire power after its plan for a quick victory was thwarted by Ukrainian resistance, and may have trouble replacing the equipment given its inability to domestically produce critical components through its import substitution programs, according to RUSI.
“The degradation in Russian military capability could be made permanent if appropriate policies are implemented,” RUSI analysts including James Byrne and Gary Somerville wrote.
US-based companies provided most of the equipment, responsible for 70% of components discovered in the weapons. Japan, Taiwan and European Union members also provided many of the materials.
While some of the components are prosaic microelectronics produced as far back as the 1980s, others were probably acquired via clandestine networks run by Russian security agencies, the report said.
RUSI recommended a series of measures including strengthening export controls, preventing the manufacture of sensitive microelectronics under license in states that back Russia and cracking down on transshipment of controlled goods to Russia, in order to prevent its military from rearming.
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