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British tech fuels Russia’s war machine in Ukraine

Sky News has discovered that Russia is importing British high-tech equipment and components through third countries, despite Western sanctions.
British exports to Russia
Sky News. Screenshot from video.
British tech fuels Russia’s war machine in Ukraine

Russia continues to import British equipment and machinery through third countries, Sky News, a British free-to-air television news channel, reported based on data on British foreign trade.

Russia is circumventing Western sanctions by seeking loopholes to import high-tech equipment and components from the West to support its military operations against Ukraine.

British high-tech equipment (including drone equipment and heavy machinery) is supplied to South Caucasus and Central Asia countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Uzbekistan, and then transported to Russia, Sky News reported. For instance, British exports to Kyrgyzstan have risen by over 1,100%, with heavy machinery and vehicles dominating the exports, according to Sky News.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, British direct exports to Russia have fallen by 74%. Although Russia still imports food, medicines, and other humanitarian goods from the United Kingdom (UK), it does not directly import heavy machinery, electrical equipment, or cars.

However, large volumes of British dual-use goods are still being delivered to Russia through its neighboring states. British exports to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, and Georgia have increased by more than 500% since the beginning of the Russian all-out war against Ukraine two years ago.

The largest category of goods sent to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, and Georgia from the UK was “parts of airplanes, helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles” (i.e., dual-use equipment) worth six million pounds, Sky News reported. Other goods shipped by British exporters include data processing machines, air navigation equipment, and radio navigation equipment.

The British government, commenting on the Sky News analysis, said it is constantly trying to strengthen the sanctions regime against Russia and that non-compliance by any British companies “is a serious offense and is punishable by heavy financial penalties or criminal prosecution.”

According to Sky News, during the first ten months of 2023, British companies exported critical components to Russia, including semiconductors and drones, worth more than $100 million. Last year, the UK announced the creation of a special unit to strengthen the fight against companies that evade sanctions against Russia.

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