Russia Is Poaching American Tech for Drones in the War on Ukraine

Vladimir Putin’s Brutal Bombing Campaign against Ukrainian civilians does not seem to give up. With the help of Iranian drones, Russia’s relentless attacks have killed a lot of innocent civilians in recent months. They have also threatened power plants and other critical civilian infrastructure across the country, putting millions at risk of freezing this winter.

While Russia’s campaign to attack civilians with Iranian drones famously, new evidence shows that the drones themselves rely heavily on parts made by US manufacturers, raising questions about the effectiveness of international sanctions as well as actions that the United States and other countries can take to limit the flow of Iranian weapons into Russian hands.

A new report from Weapons of Conflict Research (CAR), an organization that works with the European Union and other partners to monitor international arms flows, found large amounts of American and European parts in its drones. Iran. CAR researchers had access to the now infamous Shahed-136 as well as the Mohajer-6, two types of Iranian drones used in Ukraine against military and civilian targets the. Their analysis found that the drones were “almost exclusively made from parts based in Asia, Europe and the United States”.

The United States is last but not least on that list; a whopping 82% of components are manufactured by US-based companies. Of the parts for which the researchers were able to find manufacturing dates, half were from two years ago. NAKO, a Ukrainian civil society organization engaged in tracking down drone components and anti-corruption efforts, note that Shahed components come from well-known companies like Texas Instruments and Panasonic.

The prevalence of parts from the United States and other countries being manufactured over the past few years is alarming, but US or European companies don’t necessarily know if their products are built. weapons to bomb civilians or not. Most ingredients are listed as “dual-use,” meaning they’re not strictly intended for military use. For example, a small engine could power both a motorcycle and a drone.

A 44-year-old man, Mikhail Barabash, is injured after Russia carried out four missile attacks on industrial buildings in the Dnipro province in Ukraine late at night on November 29, 2022. Photo by Metin Aktas/ Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Matters become more complicated when the technology is sold to a middleman. In June of this year, a US citizen pleaded guilty try to provide the Iranian government with limited technology through a company based in the United Arab Emirates.

The revelations about the composition of the US and Europe also caused outrage in countries such as Slovakia, where the media criticized the customs agency for not stopping shipping to Iran, even when those parts were manufactured elsewhere and simply shipped through Slovakia. In Israel, journalists also fast to interrogate Israeli manufacturers about the ingredients found in Mohajer-6, they replied that it is difficult to prevent online buyers from shipping the ingredients to Iran afterwards.

The United States and other countries have worked for years to limit shipments of military and dual-use technologies to Iran, but the focus has rarely been on drones. Prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons or improve their rockets have captured most of the attention of policymakers. Resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations 2231for example, it’s almost entirely about restricting the Iranian government’s access to technologies and services that could help it build nuclear weapons, although that includes restrictions on aircraft long range unmanned aerial vehicle.

Iran is not the only party using dual-use technologies from the US and Europe to attack civilians. Russia it’s him relies on foreign technology to bolster its defense industry. investigate into Russia’s Iskander rocket reveals that it also has components from companies like Texas Instruments. Western efforts to restrict these technologies and the refusal of companies like Texas Instruments to continue selling products to Russia have put the Kremlin’s defense sector in a difficult position. stress like the rest of their economy.

Several attempts to impede the transfer of Iranian money to Russia have been made, but they have not solved the problem. This month, America slapped sanctions about some Iranian entities because they are involved in the production of lethal drones and transferring them to Russia. While welcome, these specific sanctions do not address the fundamental problem of how parts approach Iranian industry in the first place.

Representatives of the prosecutor’s office conduct investigative activities to document physical evidence of Russian aggression towards Ukraine at a special site where the remains of missiles and shells are being collected. which the occupiers used to attack Kharkiv, Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyi / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The CAR report also notes that Iranian drones are being improved by smuggling and leveraging dual-use products. CAR and UN experts were able to look at Iranian drones in places like Yemen in the past. Compared to older types of drones, the type used in Ukraine is much more complex. Several new components, most notably the Inertial Measurement Unit used to help drones navigate mid-air, have been found despite strict US restrictions on paper.

The scope and scale of Iran’s access to Western components is appalling, but its reliance on imported components presents an opportunity. Iran invests heavily in its drone program as a means to deter regional rivals and authorize its proxies and partners throughout the Middle East.

Preventing illegal transfers and the use of dual-use technologies is much less difficult than if Iran could produce all these components on its own. With outside researchers such as CAR and NAKO, as well as efforts from the US and European authorities to help companies limit transfers to Iran-linked parties, it is highly likely that Tehran will find it difficult to get more ingredients in the future. Restricting Iran’s drone production would hurt its efforts to support Putin’s bombing campaign in Ukraine and challenge its ability to do the same across the Middle East. .

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