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Russian companies producing drones and missiles still not sanctioned by the West

ssian drones missiles
Russian soldiers with drones. Photo: TASS
Russian companies producing drones and missiles still not sanctioned by the West
Article by: Roman Steblivskyi, StateWatch analyst at the NAKO project.
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Key Russian defense companies producing missiles and drones used each day against Ukraine have eluded the sanctions lists of the US, UK, and EU.

Almost every night, buzzing drones and roaring missiles fill the dark sky over Ukraine as Russia continues to attack innocent civilians, towns and villages across the country.In early June, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, urged Western partners to swiftly impose sanctions on Russian drone and missile manufacturers.

“Regrettably, only a fraction of the companies we included on our list have faced sanctions. And what do we see in Ukraine? An unrelenting barrage of missile and drone attacks. Ukrainians are forced to endure sleepless nights due to incessant air raids,” stressed the Minister.

To address this pressing issue, the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (NAKO) has undertaken a comprehensive evaluation of the major producers of enemy missiles and drones that have yet to face sanctions, as well as the countries sheltering them.

Prominent Russian drones belong to the Orlan series, renowned for its reconnaissance and fire control capabilities. The UAV is in service with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. It is manufactured by the Special Technology Center LLC (ООО Специальный Технологический Центр) in St. Petersburg, which is already under sanctions in numerous countries.

drone missiles
Orlan-10 drone on display in 2022. Photo: Wikipedia

However, the Center’s counterparts, responsible for crafting Zala and Lantset drones, continue to operate without restrictions in the United States and the European Union.

The Zala Aero Group, affiliated with the Kalashnikov Group, which recently unveiled a new drone division, remains unaffected by sanctions.

Similarly, the United Kingdom has not imposed sanctions on the Enics Defense Company, which supplies drones belonging to the Eleron (Aileron) series and boasts the Russian National Guard as one of its prominent clients.

According to the international group Oryx, all of these drones are used in the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Additionally, several Russian missile manufacturers continue to operate without facing sanctions in certain countries. Notably, the Novator Design Bureau, responsible for producing Kalibr cruise missiles, has evaded restrictions from both the United States and the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, the Kalinin Machine-Building Plant, situated within the same premises as Novator, has managed to elude the sanction lists of the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Russian air attack kills six, Ukrainian air defenses destroy three Kalibr missiles, nine Shaheds (updated)

Similarly, the Russian Design Bureau for Special Machine-Building, renowned for manufacturing launch equipment for sea-based complexes handling cruise and ballistic missiles, was not included on the sanction lists of both the UK and the EU.

Numerous Russian enterprises engaged in the production of various missile components have been sanctioned only by Ukraine. These examples include the Moscow Research Institute Agat, the Perm Powder Plant, the State Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design, Sverdlov Plant, among others.

The importance of sanctioning all these companies is underlined by Agiya Zahrebelska, Head of the Department for Minimizing Corruption Risks in Sanctions Policy at the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, who provides the following reasons in her commentary:

“Certain manufacturers of Kalibr, Kinzhal, and Iskander missiles remain unaffected by sanctions from partner countries. This enables them to purchase critical components necessary for uninterrupted production. Operating in three shifts, these plants significantly contribute to the production of Russian missiles, with a substantial portion relying on components from countries within the sanctions coalition. Consequently, these components inadvertently end up in Russian hands. Sanctions prohibit direct contracts with the plants, so to circumvent this obstacle, an intermediary scheme becomes necessary, resulting in delays and increased production costs.”

Are the sanctions on Russia working?

In a previous joint report by NAKO and the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), it was revealed that the Russian Kalibr cruise missile incorporates components manufactured by eleven foreign companies. Among them are nine American companies, as well as Swiss and Taiwanese entities.

“Imposing sanctions on Russian arms manufacturers across multiple jurisdictions plays a crucial role in complicating component supply to them. While the sanctions list will never be exhaustive, as new routes emerge after some are restricted, it remains essential to diligently monitor and respond promptly to these new supply routes,” conclude NAKO analysts.

Earlier investigations by NAKO focused on Iranian drones utilized by Russia to target Ukrainian infrastructure, uncovering that a majority of the components were manufactured by Western companies. Investigations revealed this vulnerability and were disseminated by various media outlets. This served as one of the factors that prompted the US government to investigate further and implement additional measures to limit Western technology access to countries such as Russia and Iran.

Today, it is highly crucial to strengthen sanctions against Russia, impose heavy sanctions on unsanctioned Russian drone- and missile-producing companies, and focus on preventing sanctions circumvention.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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