Deliveries contrary to sanctions mostly from China: Infineon chips are still used to control Russian cruise missiles

Deliveries contrary to sanctions mostly from China: Infineon chips are still used to control Russian cruise missiles

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West tried to impose sanctions on high-tech products to stop the war machine of ruler Vladimir Putin, but at least slow down. However, there have been reports that parts produced in the West can be found in Russian war equipment.

Now the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), citing a report by the Ukrainian Presidential Office, reports that many parts of the German electronics group Infineon and its American subsidiary Cypress installed in Russian cruise missiles.

Research by the newspaper and the Norwegian sanctions expert Erlend Björtvedt also revealed that despite the sanctions in force, tens of thousands of Infineon chips are still reaching Russia via intermediaries in many countries. The most important transit route is via China.

A trader in a third country that may not have imposed sanctions passes our products on to the next. This can then take many steps until the product eventually appears on an import list to Russia. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to fully understand such chains.

Jochen HanebeckInfineon boss

The German group is anything but happy about the situation. The CEO of Infineon, Jochen Hanebeck, told the newspaper that his company knew that “Infineon products (…) to our deepest regret found in Russian weapons systems”.

Personally, he finds it “depressing and difficult to bear”that his company’s products “are misused by Russia for military purposes despite the best precautionary measures”.

The newspaper further reports that according to the Ukrainian report Infineon microchips and Cypress in the cruise missiles “Kalibr” and “KH-101” (NATO code “Kodiak”), in the “Iskander” versions 9M728 and 9M729, as well as found in the Kinzhal hypersonic missile. On Friday, the Ukrainian capital Kiev was again attacked with “Kinzhal” rockets.

The “Kodiak” alone apparently contains eight different chips from Infineon and Cypress. Ukrainian experts have identified the chips in fired Russian projectiles.

In addition to products from Infineon, components from many other Western manufacturers were apparently also discovered. Most are US companies, but there are also 16 suspected producers in Germany and service provider for the Russian defense industry. Infineon is just one of them.

The Foreign Officeaccording to the newspaper, announced in July that they take the report from Ukraine “very seriously”.

As the paper goes on to write, Björtvedt, whose consulting firm “Corisk” works for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, followed up the paths through which Infineon products apparently still come to Russia today. Publicly accessible international customs data was searched for Infineon memory chips with the customs tariff number HS85423245.

This group includes one of the components from the German electronics manufacturer, which the Ukrainians are said to have found in the navigation system of a downed Russian “Kodiak”. Chips in this category have been on the EU sanctions list since October 8, 2022.

Since sanctions came into effect and 30 June Russia imported around 160,000 chips from the manufacturers Infineon and Cypress, according to the FAS. According to the report, most of the shipments came from senders in China. Ten other countries followed at some distance, mostly in the Far East. It is not clear where the sender bought the Infineon chips.

Infineon CEO Hanebeck said his group was not responsible for deliveries to Russia. His company left the Russian market in March 2022. “We don’t want to do any business with Russia, whatever it is,” he notes.

The fact that “unfortunately” Infineon products “landed in Russia” again and again has to do with the long supply chains.

“A trader in a third country that may not have imposed sanctions passes our products on to the next. This can then take many steps until the product eventually appears on an import list to Russia. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to fully understand such chains.

A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet is armed with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet is armed with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile.
© dpa/AP/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/Uncredited

The end suppliers in China and elsewhere, as well as their customers in Russia, are “not customers” of Infineon. The Russian buyers are “possibly the fifth or seventh link in the supply chain”. Infineon “cannot trace” how they got the goods.

Hanebeck continues: “I feel bad about every single case. But I couldn’t say we could have done anything better.”

At the beginning of August, the EU also expanded sanctions against Russia’s ally Belarus. According to the EU Commission, the punitive measures should mean, among other things, that the sanctions already in place against Russia cannot be circumvented via Belarus. According to the dpa news agency, the measures were published in the EU Official Journal on Thursday and thus came into force.

Accordingly, the EU countries ein export ban on technologies that can be used in the aerospace industry, such as drones. In addition, the sale, supply or export of firearms and ammunition will be prohibited in the future.

The export ban on goods and technologies that can be used for both civilian and military purposes has also been extended. (lem)

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