A senior US official has claimed Russian weapons were found with semiconductors typically found in dishwashers and refrigerators. It comes as tough sanctions have seen exports to Russia plummet as the West cuts off the country following its brutal invasion of Ukraine. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said: ‘We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military equipment in the field, it is full of semiconductors they have taken out of dishwashers. and refrigerators.”
She added that two Russian tank factories also had to close due to a lack of components.
It comes after the United States banned Russia from selling high-tech products such as semiconductors used by the defence, aerospace and marine industries just days after Russia invaded. Ukraine in mid-February.
The objective was probably an attempt to strike a blow at the Russian military by denying them access to this sensitive technology.
And the latest reports suggest the move worked.
In fact, tech experts have noted that exports to Russia have been reduced by almost 70% since mid-February.
And the United States is not the only country punishing Russia, with nearly 30 Western countries taking similar action.
The United States and several European countries had previously imposed restrictions on the sale of computer chips to Russia following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
But in the East, too, major chipmakers have dealt a blow to the Russian military.
South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, which are key players in the chip market, have all banned exports of items that the United States has put on its export control list.
This has prevented Russia from accessing crucial high-end chips and materials, as well as the components it needs to create these items domestically.
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Tom Rafferty, regional director for Asia at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said in March: “The big export bans are going to be on semiconductors and high-end semiconductors in particular, where Korea and Taiwan almost monopolize production. So there will be no supply of that anywhere for Russia to rely on.
While Russia is heavily dependent on imports of these semiconductors, there is one country that might still be willing to help.
China, which has yet to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine, is by far Russia’s biggest supplier of semiconductors.
And after the ban in March, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China remained opposed to sanctions and would “continue to conduct normal business cooperation” with the Kremlin.
But now several major Chinese tech companies are reportedly cutting shipments to Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.
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These include PC giant Lenovo Group Ltd and smartphone and gadget maker Xiaomi Corp.
But these companies have yet to publicly announce these business decisions, likely due to Beijing’s opposition to Western sanctions.
There has also been a global shortage of semiconductors due to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The shortages would also have made it harder for US defense contractors to supply weapons to Ukraine, Raimondo said last month.
She told the Senate: “I recently spoke to all the national defense contractors, who are working overtime on the Ukraine resupply issue and their biggest issue is chips.
“There are 250 or more tokens in each Javelin [missile] launch system.