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  • EU arms firms trying to flout Belarus and Russia ban (2021)

    Three EU-based firms are suspected of trying to smuggle arms to Belarus and Russia, in what might be the tip of a larger black market.

    Czech firm Česká zbrojovka tried to export over 100 rifles and pistols via Moldova to Russia in 2020, according to a Moldovan document seen by EUobserver.

    The shipment included ‘CZ TSR’-model sniper rifles, which can be used for sport or by special police.

    Hungarian firm De Fango and Slovak firm XXeurope also tried to export hundreds of thousands of ammunition cartridges via Moldova to Belarus at about the same time, the document indicated.

    The EU imposed arms embargoes on Belarus and Russia in 2011 and 2014.

    And a Moldovan liaison officer shared the information – a 12-page PowerPoint presentation created by Moldovan law-enforcement authorities – with an EU diplomat in Chișinău in July to raise the alarm.

    It also named Moldovan arms firm Cartuș, a Russian company called Alliance, and a Belarusian one called Outdoor Team in the alleged scheme to bypass EU sanctions.

    “What are the documents required in EU countries to export [military items] to non-EU countries?”, the Moldovan document asked.

    “Is circumventing [EU] embargoes by using states [Moldova] that have not ratified the embargo criminalised or entails only pecuniary liability?,” it also said.

    Moldova’s foreign ministry confirmed one of the cases to EUobserver, saying: “The [Moldovan] government … stopped an attempt to export civilian ammunitions to Belarus”.

    “They were confiscated and are currently being kept on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. The judiciary … has opened an investigation into the case, followed by several searches last week,” it said on Tuesday (5 October).

    “The ammunitions were imported from Hungary, but originally produced in Finland and Switzerland,” Moldova added, widening the list of potential EU culprits.

    Moldova was “open to collaboration with any EU institution or EU member state agency investigating this case,” the ministry told EUobserver.

    “The [prime minister Natalia] Gavrilița-government … has made it a priority to fight against corruption and to clean state institutions,” it also said.

    Slovakia corroborated fishy goings on at XXeurope.

    “We can confirm that XXeurope applied for an export licence for ammunition with a declared end-user in Moldova (for the civilian market) in April 2020. After thorough examination of the application, the Slovak MFA [ministry of foreign affairs] decided not to grant a permission for export,” it said.

    “Slovakia applies strict control in arms exports,” it added.

    “Czechia also fully implements all EU or UN arms embargoes,” its foreign ministry told EUobserver.

    The Hungarian foreign ministry said it “complies … with the rules on arms embargo and other restrictive measures adopted by the United Nations or the European Union”.

    Czech firm Česká zbrojovka told EUobserver after this story was already published “it has not supplied any of its products subject to international sanctions to either Russia or Belarus, while such sanctions have been in place” and “not authorised any of its customers or business partners to make any such sales”.

    De Fango, the Hungarian arms company, told EUobserver it “does not supply goods to Russia and Belarus”.

    “All deliveries by our company are carried out exclusively with the permission of the competent state authorities of Hungary, observing all Hungarian laws and EU laws,” it said.

    XXeurope, the Slovak firm, which is located in Žilina in north-west Slovakia, did not list a phone number or email address.

    Moldovan company Cartuș denied wrongdoing in a statement also sent after this article was published.

    Belarusian firm Outdoor Team, which is located in an industrial estate outside Minsk, did not reply.

    A man who answered when EUobserver phoned Russian firm Alliance in St Petersburg declined to identify himself. But he said: “We don’t have any interest to talk about this problematic [sic]. It’s too big emotion [sic]. We don’t need to talk with you. Good day. Excuse me”.

    EU light

    For its part, the EU foreign service recently asked Bratislava, Budapest, and Prague to shed light on the affair in the EU Council, where member states meet.

    The European Commission and Europol, the joint EU police agency in The Hague, have also been seized of the Moldova re-export scheme, according to internal EU documents seen by EUobserver.

    “Moldovan authorities made a presentation about possible cases of violation of arms embargoes on Russia and Belarus from Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia,” a recent internal EU foreign-service email said, referring to Chișinău’s PowerPoint document.

    “The alleged scheme involves manufacturers from these countries which exported weapons (pistols and rifles) or ammunitions to Moldova and then re-exported to Russia and Belarus,” the email added.

    The EU foreign service declined to comment when asked if it was pursuing an investigation.

    “In cases where the EEAS [EU External Action Service] hears about a potential case of violation of EU arms embargoes, it informs the relevant EU member state(s) and requests the necessary information in order to investigate the allegations and ensure implementation,” its spokesman said.

    But the revelation of the Moldova scheme posed the question if there was a wider black market in EU arms to embargoed states.

    And the EU foreign-service email highlighted a potential loophole in the arms-control regime.

    “EU sanctions apply in the territory of the EU and third states [such as Moldova] cannot be found liable of violation of EU sanctions,” it said.

    “In case of alignment of third countries on EU sanctions, it is for the third country to decide on the course of action under its own national law,” it added.

    For the Czech foreign ministry, the existing rules worked fine.

    “There is no loophole in EU arms embargoes – if any end-user in the third country re-exports arms to embargoed countries, then it constitutes a clear breach of EU law and it is subject to an investigation,” it told EUobserver.

    But EU guns and riot-control equipment have turned up in Belarus before.

    These included German-made pistols brandished by Belarusian police against pro-democracy protesters last September, according to German broadcaster ZDF.

    And they included Czech-made stun grenades used against crowds last year, some of which caused serious injuries, according to US think-tank the Atlantic Council.

    The EU also has arms embargoes on Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.


    But the Moldova-Belarus scheme showed that some of the EU measures were “just symbolic”, one EU security source commented.

    “In general, the flow of arms and ammo to Belarus and Russia [from EU countries] is wider [than the Moldova scheme], including other military equipment,” the source said.

    Sometimes, the devil was in the detail of individual EU arms bans, which contained derogations.

    And for its part, the Czech Republic took an interest in tweaking EU rules on arms to Russia earlier this year.

    “Coest discussed the CZ [Czech] proposal concerning a modification of the scope of the [Russia] arms embargo,” a memo dated 22 July from the EU Council’s Working Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Coest) to its Working Party of Foreign Relations Counsellors (Relex), said.

    But if anybody misbehaved, they should have known better, because another EU memo, dated 14 May 2019 and also seen by EUobserver, spelled out the details of the Russia and Belarus bans.

    Some types of “civilian firearms” could be sold to Russia, the letter from Relex to the Council’s Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports said.

    But nothing should be sold to Belarus because its EU sanctions included “restrictions on equipment used for internal repression,” while the EU sanctions on Russia did not, Relex said.

    Find this story at 6 October 2021

    Up in arms: Warring over Europe’s arms export regime (2019)

    The European Union’s poorly co-ordinated arms export policy is undermining Europe’s security, its foreign policy and its defence industry.

    The EU’s arms export policy should have three aims. First, arms control, in order to keep arms out of the wrong hands. Second, targeted arms exports to allies and countries that share the EU’s security challenges. Third, supporting the development of European military technology.

    The Union’s current arms export regime, the ‘Common Position’, sets out eight criteria that member-states must test export licenses against, such as respect for international humanitarian law in the destination country. But because defence is considered a matter of national sovereignty, the Common Position is not implemented or enforced at the EU level.

    The recent spat over arms exports to Saudi Arabia – Berlin ceased arms exports to the kingdom, to the chagrin of Paris and London – exposed how national arms export decisions are often driven by different political, economic and industrial concerns. Such disunity makes it harder for Europe to help resolve conflicts or influence the behaviour of third countries.

    Arms export policies differ across European countries because there is little consensus on the threats to the EU or on the Union’s interests. This has been evident in the EU’s foreign policy towards Syria and Venezuela. In May 2013, the EU’s 28 foreign ministers failed to reach a consensus on renewing the embargo on arms sales to Syria, with some member-states vying to arm rebel groups. And when anti-government protests erupted in Venezuela in early 2017, EU member-states spent months debating whether or not to intervene, allowing the situation to deteriorate significantly before finally agreeing on a sanctions package that included an arms embargo. In both cases, the EU found itself unable to seize its opportunity to alleviate the situation.

    Exporting to third countries allows defence companies to enlarge their customer base and create economies of scale. At the same time it raises the bar for European firms to make more competitive products. By combining stricter export controls with more research and development spending, the EU would create incentives for defence companies to improve technology while reducing death, injury and destruction outside the EU.

    Member-states will only join forces to develop new military equipment or weapon systems if they trust each other to provide the necessary components in times of crisis – to customers both inside and outside the EU. Without a reliable and consistent arms export policy at European level, the EU’s recent high-profile initiatives to improve European defence capabilities risk falling flat.

    A truly common EU arms export policy would require a supervisory body controlled by the European Commission to report violations of the Common Position by member-states. The Commission could refer member-states that refused to follow the rules to the European Court of Justice. But such a radical overhaul would require changes to the EU treaties – and there is no appetite among member-states to surrender their autonomy.

    However, there are smaller steps that the EU can take without treaty changes that would more closely align member-states’ arms exports regimes:

    specify what constitutes a ‘clear risk’ or ‘serious violation’ in the Common Position, make it explicit that existing licenses can be suspended or revoked, and make reporting obligations more stringent;

    help member-states implement stronger ‘end-use’ controls to ensure arms do not end up in unintended hands;

    clarify terms in the EU’s regulation on ‘dual-use’ goods (those with both a civilian and military use such as cyber-surveillance technology), and encourage information exchange between member-states;

    reach inter-governmental binding commitments to abide by the EU’s toughened export criteria between some member-states, especially France and Germany, which would put greater pressure on laxer member-states.

    Together, the EU’s member-states are second only to the US in the volume of arms they export.1 But EU arms export policy is poorly co-ordinated. The divergence is weakening Europe’s ability to achieve its foreign policy objectives, undermining not only its credibility as a principled, values-driven power but also its recent high-profile initiatives to improve European defence capabilities.

    Europeans recently fell out over arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Following the murder of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, Germany decided to suspend all arms exports to the kingdom. Other European countries including Finland, Denmark and Norway had already taken this decision following the devastating Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015. France and the UK, however, sharply criticised Germany and pressed Chancellor Angela Merkel to revoke the decision.

    Too often, arms exports are driven by political, economic and industrial concerns, rather than by the EU’s own laws and guidelines. Governments are not only concerned with national security and regional stability, but also with facilitating the exports of domestic defence companies, which generate profits, jobs and tax revenues. Thus the allure of large arms contracts can skew a country’s foreign policy.

    The Saudi case underlines the need for a co-ordinated European arms export policy, which should have three strands. The first is arms control: keeping arms and dual-use goods out of the wrong hands, that is, state or non-state actors that could use them to violate international law or create instability.2 The second is targeted arms exports: selling military equipment to actors with shared security challenges. The third strand is the arms industry itself: a consistent, predictable and shared arms export policy would help support European capability development and foster a stronger European defence industry.

    Arms exports have been repeatedly excluded from EU treaty provisions. Member-states are unwilling to surrender their autonomy in this area of defence policy, which is guarded as a matter of national sovereignty. Attempts by the EU to co-ordinate national policies have repeatedly failed. The Council of the EU is currently reviewing the EU’s guidelines on arms exports: now is the time for a closer look at the EU’s arms export regime.

    This policy brief argues in favour of an effective common European arms export policy, examining its potential to support foreign policy through several case studies, and how it can support the EU’s ambition to build a strong European defence industrial base. We assess the EU’s current arms export regime, and ask whether a greater role for the EU in arms export regulation is possible and compatible with member-states’ interests. Finally, we make recommendations on how Europe’s arms export policy could be improved.

    Why does the EU need an arms export policy?

    A genuinely common policy would help prevent weapons made in the EU from being used to undermine stability or violate international humanitarian and human rights law. It would also help the EU to promote regional stability, protect allies and friendly states, and strengthen Europe’s defence industry.

    1. Control: Preventing weapons falling into the ‘wrong’ hands
    By restricting arms supplies, the EU can attempt to change a state’s behaviour. Arms embargoes can constrain aggressive behaviour by depriving a country of military resources. Restricting arms exports can also send a strong signal condemning human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.

    2. Export: Putting weapons in the ‘right’ hands
    Europeans sometimes export to strategic partners or allies in crisis-prone regions in the hope of contributing to regional stability. For instance, the German government is donating 50 Marder tanks to Jordan to protect its borders against Islamist militant groups.6

    Exporting arms to conflict zones is a risky strategy, and should always form part of a comprehensive support programme, including training security forces about how to use the arms in line with international law. Supplying arms can alter regional dynamics in unpredictable ways, making a previously militarily weak country more belligerent, as seen with US arms sales to Iran in the 1970s.

    European arms and equipment can, however, be exported to support countries struggling with globally significant security challenges. Maritime security, for instance, is crucial for Europe’s prosperity and stability: 50 per cent of EU external trade is transported by sea, and maritime crime in the forms of theft, smuggling, piracy and terrorism is widespread. EU member-states can assist countries in their attempts to combat piracy by selling them naval equipment.

    Arms exports can also ensure that European allies and partners maintain technological parity with or superiority over shared adversaries. This strategy is already being pursued in Asia. To counterbalance Chinese dominance in the region, the US and some EU countries are exporting arms to countries like Indonesia: the Dutch company Damen, for example, exported two Sigma naval frigates to the Indonesian navy in 2017 and 2018. Arms exports can also increase interoperability and make it easier to conduct joint operations with partners.

    3. Supporting the EU’s defence industry

    If Europe is to become a credible defence player, it needs to have a strong defence industry. But a competitive defence industry requires a coherent and credible EU arms export policy.

    First, EU defence policy can help companies become less dependent on exports, and more selective about who to export to. To cope with the relatively low national-level defence spending in Europe in recent years, and with the fragmentation of the market, companies have prioritised commercially attractive dual-use capabilities – which can be used for both military and civilian objectives – or have shifted away from their home market and focused instead on exports. A business model that relies on exports means that restrictions on arms exports immediately endanger jobs. And since European countries tend to ‘buy national’, the main export markets for European arms are often in countries outside the EU, rather than in other member-states. As a result, European industries at times prioritise the capability needs of non-European customers over those of EU states.7

    At the same time, pursuing a strict ‘buy EU’ policy would make it more difficult for European military forces to fill their capability gaps in time, since the EU’s defence industries are not able to cater to all of Europe’s equipment needs.8 The more units of goods with high development costs that are produced, the lower the average cost of each unit. To achieve such ‘economies of scale’ in defence production, European industry has an interest in enlarging its potential customer base through exports. Plus, keeping the European market open and exporting to partner countries (such as democratic, law-abiding NATO members) would also raise the bar for European companies and lead to more competitive products.
    In a best-case scenario, the EU would stimulate defence research and development spending from member-states, which would benefit European industries and simultaneously relieve at least some of the pressure on them to find export customers and prioritise their requirements over those of European security.

    Second, member-states’ arms export policies need to be reliable and consistent in order to engage in joint capability development. The EU has devised a range of new initiatives to improve its defence capabilities. Among the most high-profile of these new initiatives are the Co-ordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the European Defence Fund and Permanent Structured Co-operation (PESCO). All of these aim to encourage member-states to co-operate on capability development.

    The EU envisages that the process will work as follows: the EU institutions together with European governments identify Europe’s capability gaps and opportunities for joint capability development through CARD; they agree on a list of military equipment that is needed in Europe (the so-called Capability Development Plan); a group of PESCO members decides to develop an item together; and that group gets co-funding from the European Commission via the defence fund. But so far, the EU has not yet developed a plan about what to do when these member-states cannot agree on arms export rules.

    Germany’s decision in the autumn of 2018 to suspend all arms exports to Saudi Arabia indicated just how much of an obstacle arms export policy could become to joint capability development. In 2018, Berlin put a halt to the sale of already assembled items, such as patrol boats, as well as German-produced components used by other companies across Europe. The freeze held up the delivery of Meteor air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia.9 The missiles are produced by the European company MBDA (jointly owned by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo), but the propulsion system and warheads are built in Germany. German components are also needed to maintain European products after delivery, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon planes, produced jointly by the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain. Germany’s allies criticised the unpredictability of Berlin’s arms export policy and warned that European defence companies would resort to producing ‘German-free’ goods in the future.10

    Member-states will only come together to create new military equipment, like the next European fighter jet, if they can rely upon one another for the supply of components. Without a common arms export policy, jointly-produced systems will always be vulnerable to one of the partners introducing export controls on one or more of the potential purchasers.

    How does the EU export and control arms?

    The EU’s arms export regime is fragmented, and based on three layers of law: international, EU and national. The regime is made up of several legislative instruments, which are monitored by different EU institutions. And while the EU sets out basic tenets for arms exports, licensing and regulation is determined at the national level, resulting in 28 national licensing systems and sets of rules.

    Although arms exports ultimately remain a matter of national competence, EU member-states have agreed to “high common standards” and “convergence” in managing arms transfers.11 There are two parts to this commitment. First, the European Council adopted the Common Position on Arms Export Controls in 2008, which defines common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment. Second, all member-states are party to the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which establishes the “highest possible common international standards” for the global arms trade. The ATT was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013 and entered into force in the EU in 2014. Both the ATT and the Common Position are legally binding, and regulate exports of conventional weapons.

    The Common Position sets out eight criteria against which member-states must test export licences, including respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in the destination country.

    Saudi Arabia

    In 2015, the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman launched a military intervention in Yemen. The Houthis, a Shiite tribal group, had taken control of the country’s capital, Sana’a, and forced the resignation of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and his government – which had been backed by the Saudis. Saudi Arabia presented the incursion as necessary to control Iranian influence on the Arabian Peninsula, exaggerating the extent of Iranian support for the Houthis.20 The Saudis formed a coalition of nine other Sunni Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco and Senegal.21 The coalition wants to restore the Hadi government and provides financial and military support to the Yemeni army and proxy armed groups. The US, UK and France provide the coalition with arms, military equipment and training. The conflict has left 22 million people, three-quarters of all Yemenis, in need of humanitarian aid and protection.22


    Much like the Yemen conflict, the Syrian civil war has exposed Europe’s lack of common foreign policy, as exemplified by diverging arms export policies.

    Syria descended into civil war after President Bashar al-Assad brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in April 2011. The EU responded by imposing sanctions on Syria, including an embargo on the sale of arms and military equipment to all actors (other than humanitarian workers). The embargo was fleshed out by Council regulations in 2012, which banned specific items such as telecoms interception equipment.


    Since Venezuela descended into crisis in 2010, Europe has struggled to speak with one voice. The EU’s High Representative for foreign and security policy Federica Mogherini has often been limited to making declarations when member-states could not reach a consensus on sanctions or who to designate as the country’s legitimate government.

    After months of anti-government protests, President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected in a rigged election in the autumn of 2017. The EU’s member-states spent months arguing over how to manage the unfolding crisis, with disputes over the EU’s right to intervene and encourage a change of regime. The EU was unable to reach a unanimous decision on sanctions, in part because Greece and the populist Five Star Movement within Italy’s coalition argued that sanctions interfered in Venezuela’s sovereign affairs. Only in November 2017 did the EU adopt sanctions on Venezuela and call for free and fair elections. The restrictive measures included asset freezes and travel bans on individuals, as well as an arms embargo, including on equipment that could be used for internal repression or monitoring. In an official communication, the Commission later argued that this delayed decision followed “a further substantial deterioration of the situation on the ground”.33

    Is a greater role for the EU in regulating arms exports possible?

    Europe needs more co-ordination when it comes to arms exports. Divergent arms export policies undermine Europe’s common foreign and security policy goals. Sanctions taken at the individual country level are ineffective. When Europeans act in unison, the impact of their foreign policy is multiplied, especially when their arms export policies are integrated into broader EU policies towards particular regions or conflicts.

    There are radical, and for now unrealistic, ways of bringing about a common European arms export policy. For example, to ensure that member-states adhere to the Common Position, the EU would have to introduce a mechanism to hold governments accountable for breaking the rules. Or if member-states agreed to give up some national decision-making authority over arms exports, the EU could establish a supervisory body controlled by the Commission or the High Representative to report violations of the Common Position by member-states. The Commission could refer member-states that refused to follow the rules to the ECJ.37 Such a new body would require a change to the EU fundamental treaties and therefore unanimity among EU member-states, however.

    At present, there is little appetite among member-states (including Germany) to give up decision-making power in this field. Anne-Marie Descôtes, the French ambassador to Germany, recently dismissed the idea of Europeanising arms exports as a cop-out and an attempt to pass responsibility to European institutions.38 She argued that it would be an unparalleled transfer of sovereignty and an unacceptable violation of Article 346. Her reading of the mood in Europe is accurate. But the EU’s plans to build a ‘defence union’ could open a window of opportunity for ‘more EU’ in arms export policy.


    1. Improve the Common Position
    A review of the Common Position began in 2018, and is ongoing in COARM. Reviewers are considering how to improve the wording of the Position; possible changes to the users’ guide, including an e-licensing system for military goods; and adapting the annual report into a publicly available online database to improve transparency. Any change to the Common Position will require unanimity.43


    Europe’s diverging export policies are harming the EU’s interests and credibility. Without stronger co-ordination at the EU level, Europe’s ability to protect its security is diminished, and the Union runs the risk of its member-states violating international law and being complicit in human rights abuses and other atrocities.

    A stronger, unified arms export policy is also vital for EU ambitions to develop a European defence industry. Joint European capability projects will perpetually stumble when governments run into disagreements on export rules.

    However, before a common arms policy can be agreed, EU member-states must first reach a shared analysis of any given conflict and establish what the EU’s interests are. This often proves difficult. For instance, EU member-states have different views on whether supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia will help stabilise the Gulf region, and how exports might affect European security. At the heart of the issue lies a lack of consensus on threat perception and strategic assessment. And many member-states think in terms of national efforts to protect national security, rather than considering that their national security is rarely distinct from wider EU and European security. Lucrative arms contracts for national defence industries and preserving or creating domestic jobs also generate pressure to interpret the Common Position liberally.

    A common and enforceable EU arms export regime, including a sanctions mechanism and supervisory arms control body, should be the goal. Conversations with EU officials and industry figures make it abundantly clear that this is a long way off. But the development of EU defence initiatives and the increasing role of the Commission in defence policy suggest the first tentative steps towards this end may be taking place.

    Even if an overhaul were legally possible without consensus, it would be unwise. EU member-states should attempt to reach a shared view on the security context of arms exports, improve the wording of the Common Position and agree on the format of reporting by member-states, tighten dual-use regulation and end-use controls, and reach inter-governmental export agreements. Europe’s security will benefit if the EU can keep moving towards convergence on arms export policy.

    1: The combined arms exports of European Union member-states accounted for 27 per cent of global arms exports between 2014-18.
    2: Goods that have both a military and a civilian application are known as dual-use.
    3: “It’s not as easy as saying cut off arms sales. If we don’t … sell them munitions that are precision-targeted … with our rigour and standards … the situation could get a whole lot worse”, British MP Johnny Mercer argued in defence of continued supply of arms to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, ‘Peston’s Politics’, ITV, October 25th 2018.
    4: Rolf Mützenich, deputy head of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in the German Bundestag, ‘German ban on arms exports to Saudis spurs pushback’, Spiegel Online, March 6th 2019.
    5: Michael Brzoska, ‘Measuring the effectiveness of arms embargoes’, Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 2008; Clara Portela, ‘The EU’s use of ‘targeted’ sanctions: Evaluating effectiveness’, CEPS, March 2014.
    6: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Industry, ‘Report by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany on its policy on exports of conventional military equipment in 2016’, June 2017.
    7: 90 per cent of France’s arms exports and 73 per cent of Germany’s went to non-EU buyers between 2014 and 2018, and 89 per cent of UK arms exports went outside Europe in 2017. France and Germany data from Pieter Wezeman and others, ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers’, SIPRI, 2018; UK data from UK Government, ‘UK defence and security export statistics for 2017’, March 14th 2019.
    8: Douglas Barrie and others, ‘Protecting Europe: meeting the EU’s military level of ambition in the context of Brexit’, IISS and DGAP, November 2018.
    9: Matthias Gebauer and Christoph Schult, ‘Britain accuses Berlin of lacking loyalty to allies’, Der Spiegel, February 19th 2019.
    10: Anne-Marie Descôtes, ‘Working Paper on Security Policy No. 7/2019: From “German-free” to mutual trust’, German Federal Academy for Security Policy, March 26th 2019.
    11: Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008.
    12: Sophia Besch, ‘Security of supply in EU defence: Friends in need?’, CER insight, August 17th 2016.
    13: Interview with COARM official.
    14: National Assembly, ‘Ordinary Session of 2010-2011’, 13th Legislature, 161st meeting, April 12th 2011.
    15: UN Human Rights Council, ‘Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014’, August 17th 2018. The findings are still subject to a determination by an independent and competent court.
    16: House of Commons Hansard, ‘Export licences: High Court judgment’, volume 662, June 20th 2019.
    17: Giovanni de Briganti, ‘Dispute over arms exports: France threatens Germany with exit from fighter jet project’, Defense-Aerospace.com, October 2018.
    18: European Commission, ‘Evaluation of Directive 2009/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community’, November 2016.
    19: Interview with Ian Stewart, Senior Research Associate at War Studies Department, King’s College London, February 2019.
    20: A UN Security Council report from January 2017 concluded there was insufficient evidence to confirm large-scale supply of arms from the Iranian government to the Houthi rebels. See UN Security Council, ‘Letter from the Panel of Experts on Yemen addressed to the President of the Security Council’, S/2017/81, January 31st 2017.
    21: Qatar’s membership was suspended in 2017 following the GCC diplomatic crisis. Morocco left the coalition in February 2019 after increasing tension between Rabat and Riyadh.
    22: International Organisation for Migration, Yemen report, July 22nd 2018; Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, ‘Press release’, March 20th 2019.
    23: See Common Article 1 of the Geneva Convention; Knut Dormann and Jose Serralvo, ‘Common Article 1 to the Geneva Conventions and the obligation to prevent international humanitarian law violations’, International Committee of the Red Cross, September 21st 2015.
    24: UN Human Rights Council, ‘Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014’, August 17th 2018.
    25: See Marco Sassòli, ‘State responsibility for violations of international humanitarian law’, International Committee of the Red Cross, June 2002; and International Commission of Jurists, ‘Bearing the brunt of war in Yemen: International law violations and their impact on the civilian population’, July 2018.
    26: European Parliament, Resolution on the situation in Yemen, 2018/2853(RSP), October 4th 2018.
    27: Beth Oppenheim, ‘You never listen to me: The European-Saudi relationship after Khashoggi’, CER policy brief, May 2nd 2019.
    28: Beth Oppenheim, ‘UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been found unlawful’, Independent, June 20th 2019.
    29: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ‘Foreign secretary statement to parliament on Syria’, May 20th 2013.
    30: UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’, June 4th 2013.
    31: Due to a lack of detail in the EU’s annual report, it is not possible to see precisely how many licences. These descriptions are those cited in ‘Brief descriptions of EU Common Military List categories’, ‘Annual report on the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports’, the Official Journal of the European Union, 2014.
    32: Annual reports on the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, the Official Journal of the European Union, 2012-2014.
    33: European Commission, ‘Communication from the Commission to the European Council, the European Parliament and the Council: A stronger global actor: A more efficient decision-making for EU Common Foreign and Security Policy’, September 12th 2018.
    34: The exporting European member-states were Austria, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden, see SIPRI’s trend-indicator value (TIV) tables, 1999-2016.
    35: Value of licensed goods, ‘Annual report on the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports’, Official Journal of the European Union, 2009.
    36: Martin Arostegui, ‘Critics: Spain’s tank, arms deals with Venezuela prop up Nicolas Maduro’, The Washington Post, January 21st 2019.
    37: Bodil Valero, ‘The change we need in EU arms export control’, Friends of Europe, May 14th 2018.
    38: Anne-Marie Descôtes, ‘Working Paper on Security Policy No. 7/2019: From “German-free” to mutual trust’, German Federal Academy for Security Policy, March 26th 2019.
    39: ‘Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Defence Fund’, COM/2018/0254, June 13th 2018..
    40: The European Economic Area includes EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
    41: Alexandra Brzozowski, ‘EU lawmakers rubber-stamp European Defence Fund, give up parliamentary veto’, Euractiv, April 18th, 2019.
    42: Daniel Fiott, ‘European defence-industrial co-operation: From Keynes to Clausewitz’, Global Affairs, 2015.
    43: Anne-Marie Descôtes, ‘Working Paper on Security Policy No. 7/2019: From “German-free” to mutual trust’, German Federal Academy for Security Policy, March 26th 2019.
    44: European Parliament Policy Department, ‘The further development of the Common Position 944/2008/CFSP on arms exports control’, July 2018.
    45: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Industry, ‘Report by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany on its policy on exports of conventional military equipment in 2016’, June 2017.
    46: ‘Weapons of the Islamic State’, Conflict Armament Research, December 2017.
    47: Lawrence Marzouk, Ivan Angelovski and Miranda Patrucic, ‘Making a killing: The €1.2 billion arms pipeline to Middle East’, Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), July 27th 2016.
    48: Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International, cited in Lawrence Marzouk and others, OCCRP, July 27th 2016.
    49: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Industry, ‘A restrictive, responsible policy on the export of military equipment’, accessed April 17th 2019.
    50: German Federal Ministry for Business and Energy, ‘Short question by MPs Sevim Dagdelen, Heike Hänsel, Matthias Höhn, and the Die Linke party concerning: “carrying out post-shipment controls on arms exports to third countries”’, September 2018.
    51: House of Commons Quadripartite Select Committee, ‘UK arms exports during 2016’, ‘The licencing regime’, July 18th 2018.
    52: This list would go beyond the international ‘Wassenaar list’, compiled under the Wassenaar Arrangement (1996), a voluntary multilateral export control regime with 42 participating states. The list is divided into dual-use and conventional items.
    53: In January 2018, a working paper of objections to the proposal was put forward by 11 member-states, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. See Council of the European Union, ‘Working Paper: EU Export Control – Recast of Regulation 428/2009’, WK 1019/2018 INIT, January 29th 2018. In May 2018, a further working paper was put forward by a different, overlapping, group of nine member-states, including the UK. See Council of the European Union, ‘Working Paper: For adoption of an improved EU export control regulation 428/2009’, WK 5755/2018 INIT, May 15th 2018.
    54: Mark Bromley and Giovanna Maletta, ‘The Challenge of Software and Technology Transfers to Non-Proliferation Efforts: Implementing and Complying with Export Controls’, SIPRI, April 2018.
    55: Mark Bromley, ‘Export controls, human security and cyber-surveillance technology: Examining the proposed changes to the EU dual-use regulation’, SIPRI, December 2017.
    56: Thomas Wiegold, ‘German-French arms export plans – veto only in exceptional cases’, Augen Ggeradeaus!, February 22nd 2019.
    Sophia Besch , Beth Oppenheim
    10 September 2019
    EU arms embargo on Russia will make little impact if France can still sell Putin warships (2014)

    The Council of the EU is currently struggling over whether to impose an arms embargo on Russia as punishment for its role in destabilising Ukraine. Several governments in the EU, including the UK, have already announced that they are denying arms export licences for Russia and revoking those that have previously been granted.

    Also in place is a Council Common Position that governs exports of military technology and equipment. This already obliges EU member states to deny arms export licences if there are concerns about the recipient’s respect for international humanitarian and human rights law or non-proliferation – or if they are involved in internal, regional or international conflict and tensions.

    Arms embargoes are a vital part of the EU’s “smart sanctions” toolbox, with 22 currently in force. They have no negative humanitarian impact and are usually deployed to restrict arms flows and change target behaviour, and send political signals. The targets of EU arms embargoes tend not to be significant importers of EU-produced arms.

    Russia plans to spend more than $700 billion on military equipment in the decade to 2020, and its domestic arms industry will be the main beneficiary of these plans. However, under former Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov (2007-2012), licensed production agreements were struck with EU arms producers for armoured vehicles, helicopters and small arms, as well as parts and components for Russian systems.

    This means Russia’s garguantuan €1.1 billion order for two Mistral amphibious assault ships from France is on a very different scale from other deals. It dwarfs Rheinmetall’s €120m contract to build a military training centre in Mulino, a deal suspended earlier in 2014 in response to the Crimean crisis.

    Opening the books

    EU member states are among the most open in the world when it comes to providing information on arms exports; they annually report on their deliveries of major conventional weapons to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. That register reveals that during 2008-2012, most of the EU’s arms exports to Russia were destined for a museum or destruction.

    EU member states are also obliged to provide annual data on the value of all arms export licences issued and deliveries made, broken down by destination and categories of military equipment. This data is presented in a publicly-available EU annual report on arms exports.

    But while all states provide information on licences issued, major exporters such as Germany and the UK do not provide information on their deliveries.

    Here’s what we do know: during 2008-2012, EU member states issued export licences worth €925m for Russia, representing just 0.5% of the total value of all export licences issued. France accounted for more than a third of this value, issuing licenses worth €382.5m during this period and delivering €131m worth of military equipment.

    Most EU member states provide information in annual reports that appear before the publication of the EU annual report. For its part, the UK has an online database that provides additional information, including descriptions of the items. In addition, the UK’s active and inquisitive parliamentary Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), provide oversight of these decisions. They have been closely scrutinising the UK’s exports to Russia of late.

    For example, on July 23 2013, the CAEC’s Sir John Stanley asked the UK’s prime minister and foreign minister to confirm whether the UK has suspended all 285 licences issued for exports of military equipment and dual-use items for Russia, in line with a government statement made in the spring.

    Embargo could damage EU

    Russia is a limited market for complete weapons systems produced in the EU. Since the dismissal of Serdyukov, Vladimir Putin has spoken of greater arms production cooperation among the BRICS, not with the EU. Dmitriy Rogozin, the deputy prime minister, has already made it clear that he regards an EU arms embargo as having a greater impact on France than Russia.

    A leaked European Commission sanctions memo indicates that an EU arms embargo might exempt contracts already concluded with Russia – in particular the French Mistral deal. That would mean France could deliver the first Mistral to Russia this year, in accordance with its contractual obligations. That the deal was authorised in the aftermath of Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia showed the depth of EU divisions over Russia.

    Allowing France to complete such a vast arms deal at this deeply sensitive time will reinforce the view that EU arms embargoes are tokenistic measures, staged to give the impression of “doing something” – as long as it does not significantly damage the interests of the EU’s largest members.

    From guns to warships: Inside Europe’s arms trade with Russia (2014)
    The West has slapped stringent sanctions on Russia in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, believed by the U.S. and others to have been shot down with a Russia-supplied Buk missile system by eastern Ukraine rebels.
    While the introduction of financial sanctions will create the most immediate squeeze on Russia, it is the crack-down on the arms trade which has triggered debate. Future imports and exports between the EU and Russia are now banned — but existing contracts, including France’s $1.6 billion Mistral-class warships deal, are allowed to go ahead.
    But Russia is one of the few countries in the world that is nearly self-sufficient in its defense production, according to IHS Jane’s expert Guy Anderson. So will the arms embargo have an impact?
    Here is a cheat-sheet on Europe’s arms trade with Russia.
    How big is the arms trade between Europe and Russia?
    European Union countries earned $583 million from weapons exports to Russia in 2013, the bulk of which was part-payment of the Mistral deal, according to analysis from IHS Jane’s.
    Russia is, by comparison, the world’s second largest military exporter after the U.S., earning $13.2 billion from arms exports last year. Its biggest customers are India and China, countries which have not joined the sanctions against Russia.
    The industry is heavily regulated and EU figures track the bloc’s arms trade by licenses approved. In total, European Union countries granted 922 licenses to sell $259 million worth of weapons to Russia in 2012, according to the latest statistics available.
    However, according to Anderson, the licenses — which in the UK, for example, expire after two years — are more an “expression of intent” than indication of likely sales.
    The trade with Russia compares to $4.3 billion worth of weapons the EU licensed arms companies to sell to the U.S.
    What are the biggest deals?
    While Russia is a significant player in the supply of arms, it has also leaned on Europe for some big deals.
    The biggest — and now most controversial — is the Mistral contract of 2011, signed by France’s previous government. The warships are powerful vessels equipped with six helicopter landing zones. Each of them can carry up to 16 heavy helicopters and around 500 marines.
    The first of the two carriers due to be delivered is now completing sea trials, and 400 Russian troops are currently training on it in the French port of Saint-Nazaire.
    David Prater, of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said they were Russia’s first “serious” weapon supplied by Europe.
    Russia’s other significant deals include its purchase of two German engines for missile boats in 2001, and four light transport aircraft from the Czech Republic in 2012, according to the SIPRI databases.
    Details on the contracts are scarce but the Czech planes were reported to be worth around $3.2 million each. Russia also bought 60 army vehicles, reportedly worth estimated $24 million, from Italy in 2011.
    According to the SIPRI, Russia has also agreed to buy at least eight drones from Israel in 2009, worth a reported $50 million.
    Russia was also importing arms and military equipment from Ukraine, but the Russian Defense Ministry was reported saying it would phase this out within two years.
    “Ironically, the loss of Ukraine as a supplier to Russia is far more significant that the loss of Europeans,” Anderson said. “A lot of subcontracted work for Russia’s industrial base took place in Ukraine.”
    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the deals and impact of sanctions.
    Why is the Mistral deal so politically hot?
    The Mistral warships — which experts say are “very capable weapons of mobile war” — have landed France in a politically awkward spot.
    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius last week argued the country is contractually obligated to deliver the ships — but his comments were made as European relations with Russia deteriorated.
    UK Prime Minister David Cameron declared the deal’s completion “unthinkable” before being slapped back by Fabius, who echoed the phrase in reference to the UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq invasion.
    The Mistral deal keeps some 1,000 Frenchmen and women employed in a country with a 10% unemployment rate — and reversing it would be costly.
    However, French President Francois Hollande has thrown doubt on delivery of the second ship, saying last week it “depends on Russia’s attitude.”
    What happens next?
    European leaders are trying to hit Russia where it hurts with the latest round of sanctions.
    As of Thursday, Russia state-owned banks will be restricted from accessing European capital markets and exports of oil-related equipment and technology to Russia will be slowed or stopped by red tape.
    All new contracts for arms imports and exports between the EU and Russia will stop, and there will be a prohibition on exporting goods and technology that can be used for both military and civilian purposes.
    But in the short-term, the arms ban is unlikely to have a significant impact on Russia’s military might. “The embargo in itself doesn’t change anything in Russian military capabilities right now,” Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with SIPRI said.
    In the long term, he said, Russia could feel pain from losing access to the latest high-tech defense electronic systems developed in the EU.
    Weapons of the war in Ukraine. Russian entities acquired British, Czech, French, German, Spanish, and US-made components for use in the manufacture of these drones.

    Since 2014, the news media and other observers have provided accounts of weapon sourcing to armed formations operating in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. To date, efforts  to verify these claims have relied largely on examinations of open-source photos and videos of weapons and ammunition, rather than systematic field-based investigations.

    To fill this evidentiary gap, CAR undertook a three-year field investigation of materiel recovered from the self-declared DPR and LPR. This report presents the findings to help shed light on the extent to which these armed formations depend on external supplies.

    The evidence confirms that factories based in what is today the Russian Federation produced most of the militias’ ammunition and nearly all their weapons, from assault rifles and precision rifles, grenade launchers, precision-guided munitions, and landmines to anti-tank guided weapons. The findings also indicate that these armed formations field weapons previously captured by Russian forces, such as Polish anti-aircraft missiles seized in Georgia in 2008.

    In addition, the militias deploy a fleet of Russian-made drones in Ukraine. Russian forces have used similar drones within the territory of EU member states, such as Lithuania and Poland. Russian entities acquired British, Czech, French, German, Spanish, and US-made components for use in the manufacture of these drones. CAR’s analysis and tracing efforts reveal that independent Russian electronics and component distributors acquired such foreign technology on behalf of sanctioned Russian defence and security entities.

    Despite the 2014 EU arms embargo on the Russian Federation, key EU-made technology has thus made its way into Russian military drones. CAR’s investigation indicates that a general lack of clarity regarding the end use or end user of components, as well as opaque licensing requirements for dual-use components, may facilitate the export of EU-made components for the manufacture of Russian military UAVs.

    The investigation also exposes the systematic obliteration of primary identifying marks on certain weapons recovered from the armed formations operating in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, such as rocket launchers. This practice hinders traceability by concealing evidence of the precise point of diversion or the country of manufacture. The intentional retention of secondary marks, however, enables users to maintain record-keeping and inventories, in keeping with established military doctrine. The overall approach indicates that the militias operate within a centralised logistics structure.

    Most of the components that CAR documented are original and were not taken from other weapons, which may suggest a short chain of custody between the point at which the weapons left a production facility or military inventory and their use by the militias in eastern Ukraine. Since the war began in 2014, military supplies have also been exported from facilities in Luhansk and Donetsk to new Russian customers. This development calls for further investigation.


    By Conflict Armament Research

    November 2021


    Find the report here november 2021

    The United States secretly captured 20 Russian military drones and tracked the entire technology supply chain. The key parts are all imported components

    The tough future of Russia’s attack drones

    The rapid development of military drones around the world has raised a natural question time and time again-why is Russia so backward in design and production? In most cases, the main reason for this is the lazy thinking of the military and engineers. However, one of the most important and completely unreported problems lies in a completely different level-the technical level. Today we are going to analyze the real reason why Russia has fallen behind in attacking drones.


    The key parts are all imported components

    At present, the number of UAVs equipped by the Russian Armed Forces exceeds 1,900, and unmanned aviation services have been established in military districts, federations and formation headquarters. All Russian high-tech weapons are not Russian parts in the complete sense-the main components of its microelectronics and computer chips are produced in the United States and its allies. This is not classified information: for example, in the “Military Courier” publication, the Blava submarine-launched ballistic missile uses the “Alpha” microcircuit produced in Latvia, and in the documentary of the Russian studio today about K-433 In the picture of the submarine, you can see FPGA chips from Atmel and Altera in the United States. Judging from the available data, the situation of Russian drones (and all areas of the general defense industry) is exactly the same-their production possibilities directly depend on the purchase of imported parts abroad.

    Russian cosmonaut Fyodor shaped robot in as many as half of the components are imported; Costa ( Bulava ) submarine-launched missile system, and even the presence of foreign (Baltic Sea) components. Undoubtedly, since the Soviet era, Western semiconductors have always been a strategically significant technology that cannot be sold to Russia . Nonetheless, Russia was able to buy a sufficient amount of Western microelectronic products to realize the large-scale modernization of the military. This trend is clearly reflected in the design and production of drones-it is no accident. In 2014, NATO conducted a number of covert operations on Ukrainian and Syrian territories. The U.S. Special Operations Forces, the British Royal Marine Corps Commando and the British Air Force Special Forces formed multiple task forces to secretly obtain samples of Russian high-tech samples—especially UAVs. According to available data, at least 20 military drones of the Russian Armed Forces were captured in 3 to 4 years : 9 in the Syrian Arab Republic and 11 in the eastern part of Ukraine. At least three organizations in the United States have carefully studied the samples, then analyzed the sources of their parts, followed up the Russian technology supply chain, and further suppressed them. It has been found that all projects of Russian drones started with an extremely plain goal, obtaining western components from civilian projects, and then slowly developing into military models. The following information is not a military/state secret and is taken from a British investigation report. Below you can see the list of imported parts for Russian military drones given there.


    Outpost drone “Forpost”

    The Forpost UAV is actually the Russian version of the Israeli UAV Finder II. Initially, it was assembled from foreign components, but in 2016, Russia set a route for import substitution. In December 2019, Interfax News Agency reported that the Russian drone Forpost-R has completed the test of localized parts and is preparing for the national test.

    The Russian Ministry of Defense decided to import drones from Israel after the South Ossetia conflict in 2008. Israel refused to provide Russia with the latest system and only agreed to sell the tactical searcher Mk II and the light Birdeye 400 drone.

    The first two tactical drones and ten portable drones were supplied in 2009. Due to the agreement between Russia and Syria on the S-400 missile, further cooperation may be cancelled. Licensed production of Israeli drones in Russia is also under threat. The Russian army is determined to design a self-made drone even without the assistance of Israel. There was no need to make a breakthrough at the time: the contract with Israel was finally tied and localized production began. Later, Israel did impose “drone” sanctions on Russia. In 2014, new deliveries of Israeli drones were banned.

    According to the British report, the key components of the outpost drone are: 1. The single-cylinder 55W-3i engine of Germany’s 3W-Modellmotoren Weinhold GmbH. 2. Spartan XC3550 user programmable gate array from Xilinx, USA. 3. Fuel system components from Tillotson, Ireland. 4. GPS antenna from Antcom, USA. 5. The navigation module of the Swiss manufacturer MicroEM. 6. The dynamic measurement unit (DMU02 or DMU10-depending on the year of manufacture of the drone), manufactured by Silicon Sensing Systems, UK. 7. Radio frequency module 9XTend 900 MHz, produced by Digi International of the United States. 8. Network controller iEthernet W5300, produced by South Korea WIZnet company. 9. GNSS receiver NV08C-CSM from NVS Technologies AG, USA.

    The United States even obtained the engine of the captured “Forpost” UAV, which turned out to be made in Germany.


    Drone “Allen”

    The micro drone has a mass of only 2.8kg and is driven by a 300W brushless motor . The flying speed can reach 65km/h~105km/h, and the maximum flying altitude is 3000m. It carries out 60-minute uninterrupted reconnaissance of the predetermined area and pre-programmed. Up to 99 track points. Drone “Allen”: a 1-bit microcontroller from the Swiss manufacturer STMicroelectronics. 2. The main photographic equipment Sony FCB-EX11DP is produced by Sony Corporation of Japan. 3. Auxiliary photographic equipment Olympus Stylus TG-860, produced by a Japanese company.

    UAV “Zastava”: 1. Electronic components of Israeli defense companies Elbit Systems and Data Links. 2. Electronic components of American Vweb company. 3. Engine of Hacker Motor Company in Germany. 4. Autopilot AP04M from UAV Navigation in Spain. 5. GPS module of Swiss company u-blox.

    UAV “Orlan-10”: 1. GPS locator: The chips are domestically made HC4060 2H7A201 and STC 12LE5A32S2 35i. 2. Starter generator PTN78020 produced by Texas Instruments in the United States. 3. Internal combustion engine with ignition module 8-9V, 500mA, manufactured by SAITO, Japan. 4. The flight controller is assembled on the basis of the STM32F103 QFP100 microcircuit from French and Italian manufacturer STMicroelectronics. The MPXA4115A and MPXV5004DP microcircuits from Freescale Semiconductor (now owned by NXP Semiconductors NV in the Netherlands) are used as pressure sensors. The HMC6352 compass sensor is manufactured by Honeywell. 5. The GPS module is based on the GLONASS/GPS/QZSS LEA-6N receiver of Swiss u-blox company, matched with the Russian MNP-M7 (based on the American ADSP-BF534 chip produced by ADI). 6. The telemetry transmission module is based on the ATxmega256A3 microcontroller of Microchip, Inc., and the transmission range is 902-928 MHz. The RF3110 transmitter is manufactured by Municom, Germany. The receiver DP1205-C915 produced by AnyLink in Germany.

    Disassembled Russian drone Orlan-10. Judging from the pictures shown, the assembly of Russian drones is mainly based on civilian components. Perhaps this is the reason why they wear out quickly and have relatively low reliability when they are used regularly, so a large number of Russian-made drones have been captured in Syria and Ukraine, and even in the Baltic countries. Allegedly, due to technical reasons, most of the drones that fell into the hands of NATO experts have crashed .


    Does Russia understand the meaning of the concept of attacking drones?

    Analyzing the situation of Russian drones, few people have touched on this topic. Russia is most proud of “Orion” because this drone is considered the most suitable equipment for mass production. However, as in the case of Russian drone components, the situation is far from as simple as it seems. First, the Russian military industry has not come close to producing analogues of the American Hellfire missiles or the Turkish MAM series of gliding bombs. After the incidents in Syria, Libya, and Karabakh, the Russian-made attack drones urgently needed a suitable air-launched anti-tank (with a launch container). The difficulty is that the Russian defense industry has nothing to replace cornet missiles with other things, but Russia cannot ignore the growing world attack drone market.

    At the 2021 Dubai Air Show in the UAE, Russia showed a model of Orion, including a helicopter ATGM Vikhr-M. What are the two anti-tank missiles on the attack drone in 2021? The weight is too large to launch no more than two. What are the disadvantages of this solution? According to American experience, the more missiles on your drone, the longer it will fly on the battlefield. It can hover in the air for several hours, waiting for new targets. In the case of active hostilities, this is a key factor. In other words, the ridiculous combat load of the Russian Orion UAV does not allow for the organization of comprehensive air support for ground forces. It doesn’t look very optimistic, does it? In addition, it is worth mentioning that another proprietary technology of the Russian defense industry is the installation of unguided bombs on MALE-class drones. Talking about the certain “economics” of this solution, it shows that Russian gun manufacturers have shown a complete lack of understanding of the nature of the concept of attack drones.

    What are the main problems of using aerial bombs on attack drones? Due to the low carrying capacity, heavy ammunition cannot be carried, and in the case of light (100-150 kg) operation, in order to obtain acceptable bombing accuracy, the drone will have to work at low altitude and enter any, even the most primitive air defense system. -Taking into account its low speed characteristics and poor maneuverability. Even an exchange of fire with a low-tech enemy can cause losses. The hypothetical opponents (and corresponding potential buyers) that make this aircraft are significantly lower than all competitors in the world arms market. They are actually useless in battle with the regular army (imagine the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict again, but in the battle with Orion, they either carry a precision light bomb or two missiles, and in the conflict There is no advantage.



    In summary, we can say that Russia’s military drones have not yet realized and understood the true meaning of drone operations, whether they are the essence of the concept, tactics, or attack drones. All current actual developments have fully proved this. a little. Without the development of appropriate high-precision weapon systems, it is impossible for Russia to use drones for strikes, whether for personal use or for export delivery.





    Find this story on 28 Februari 2022

    Western sanctions cause “huge problems” for Russia’s war sector (but Israel probably still supplies drone parts) – military expert

    Editor’s Note

    When we published the key points of the report “Weapons of War in Ukraine” by the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research, it caught our eye that between 2014 and 2018, the drone manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries supplied a sanctioned Russian defense company with UAV components produced by various European and US manufacturers, thus providing a loophole for sanctions evasion.

    To understand whether it is used now, we reached out to military expert Mykhailo Samus, Director of the New Geopolitics Research Network, and found out how exactly Israeli technologies are helping Russia today, when western companies decided that it’s not worth the risk supplying war technologies to Russia, and that, paradoxically, Ukraine is still under an unofficial arms embargo from countries of Western Europe.


    Israel’s drone supplies

    In August 2014, Israel’s defense ministry ordered all domestic drone manufacturers to stop seeking new contracts in Russia, reportedly due to Russian intervention in Ukraine.

    However, according to sources of FlightGlobal, the decision still allowed “follow-ups” to existing contracts, including supplying spare parts and upgrades. It wasn’t until 2016 that Israel fully suspended supplies of its drones and spares to Russia.

    So, from Israel’s point of view, two shipments of Israeli drone parts to Russia somewhere between 2014 and 2018 revealed by Conflict Armament Research could have been legal if they took place prior to the 2016 ban.

    “The supplies prior to 2016 were actually a crime. And when we talk about the beginning of the war against Ukraine, it was the very period from 2014 to 2016 when not only Israel was making shipments to Russia. There were direct supplies from Italy, Germany, and France, there were deliveries from Israel as well. Their reasoning was that these were contracts signed before 2014, so they had the right to continue that,” Mykhailo Samus commented.


    EU supplies to Russia

    According to the expert, the most striking example of this behavior was the French contract to supply two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia, signed in 2011. The framework agreement also included technology transfer by creating a consortium and building the next three ships in Russia using Russian components after 2015, when the second France-build carrier was to be shipped to Russia.

    “The memorable Mistral contract was successfully averted, but Ukraine had hard times proving to France that the €2 billion for the contract would be bloody money because they would supply these ships to the country which, at the time, had effectively occupied Crimea and the Donbas, was waging an aggressive war against Ukraine. And back then the only thing to stop France was the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which clearly states that EU countries have no right to supply weapons, military equipment, and dual-use items to participants in armed conflicts,” Mr. Samus says.

    Russia and France settled on compensations to Russia for the canceled Mistral contract in the late summer of 2015. The deal was worth €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion), Russia’s advance payment totaled €893 million. France had to return the prepaid money and repay Moscow’s alleged costs which included training 400 sailors, stripping off the Russian equipment, and shipping it back to Russia. In total, France repaid a sum comparable to the full cost of the deal and later managed to sell the two ships to Egypt.

    The symbolic button presented on 6 March 2009 in Geneva by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with the Russian capture meaning “overload” instead of “reset.” Video screenshot via BBC Russian Service. ~

    The symbolic button presented on 6 March 2009 in Geneva by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with the Russian capture meaning “overload” instead of “reset.” Video screenshot via BBC Russian Service.

    As of 2014, starting from the infamous reset in relations with the US of 2010, Russia obtained and signed a huge number of contracts for the supply of weapons and technology, for dual-use goods from European countries such as Italy, France, Germany, Israel. Mykhailo Samus says these included sensitive technologies, aviation tech, and radio electronics, naval technology, and special forces equipment.

    “For instance, Germany managed to build one state-of-the-art major ground training center in Russia, Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group did it. They were going to build four of them, one in each military district of Russia, but managed to build only in the Western MD. These contracts were terminated, although Rheinmetall too didn’t immediately cancel them, arguing that all those were signed in 2012,” Mr. Samus says.

    The Italian company IVECO had signed a contract to supply or assemble 1,775 LMV armored vehicles renamed “Rys” in Russia on Russian soil, and the company supplied Russia with them up until 2016.

    France also transferred  Russia military technologies other than Mistral helicopter carriers. For example, an interior photo of a Russian tank reportedly captured in August 2014 near Ukraine’s Ilovaisk had, according to Igor Sutyagin, an expert at the RUSI think-tank, a thermal-imaging fire control system made by French firm Thales.

    Mykhailo Samus says that these night-vision devices used to be supplied to Russia for many years and only after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the further ongoing conflict these supplies were cut.

    “It’s true that sometime after 2016 these international supplies stopped at some point, but it gets really interesting here, because Russia calls, say, the Forpost UAV Russian, which is actually also an Israeli drone, it’s officially said to be made from all Russian parts,” Mykhailo says.

    Russian drone Zastava a.k.a. Israeli BirdEye-400 shot down by Ukrainian border guards near Ukrainian positions 1.5 km deep inside Ukrainian territory in Luhansk Oblast about 25 km away from the warzone on 22 July 2015. Source ~

    Russian drone Zastava a.k.a. Israeli BirdEye-400 shot down by Ukrainian border guards near Ukrainian positions 1.5 km deep inside Ukrainian territory in Luhansk Oblast about 25 km away from the warzone on 22 July 2015.

    ”But the drones shot down by Ukrainian military in the Donbas still comprise Israeli components – the problem is that Israel had managed to build an entire plant in Russia to produce its drones. So, although a drone may have ‘Made in Russia’ written outside and its name is Russian, its components may remain Israeli. And although the Israeli side says the supplies were made before the ban, it is difficult to trace how true this really is. Because it’s difficult to determine whether these components were delivered now, or they were delivered before 2016 and Russia still uses them.”

    Plate showing Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) markings and serial numbers in the wreckage of a Russian UAV Forpost a.k.a. Israeli IAI Searcher shot down near Novopetrivske (47.844290, 38.816038), Donetsk Oblast in August 2014.

    Plate showing Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) markings and serial numbers in the wreckage of a Russian UAV Forpost a.k.a. Israeli IAI Searcher shot down near Novopetrivske (47.844290, 38.816038), Donetsk Oblast in August 2014. Source

    “In fact, Russia cannot substiute its imports by 100%, which is obvious, because how can you import and then produce the same Israeli drone? Even then you can make some new Russian one from local components, electronics, and so on. The fact is that Russia doesn’t have such components: any drone as an aircraft, which is, just like a plane, is a system created specifically, with its design being tested for the interaction of all its systems. If you change something, you need to actually make a new aircraft, as it happens with planes — changing some devices, systems actually requires new tests to see how it would affect the capabilities, capacities, characteristics of this plane or UAV,” Mr. Samus believes.

    That is why, the expert says, he has doubts that Israel had fully canceled supplies of drone components to Russia, despite official statements saying otherwise.


    No EU supplies now?

    As for the EU, after 2016, when there was a lot of pressure on European companies, they mostly stopped supplies, at least there are no direct confirmed military business contacts with Russia for now.

    The Russians are trying to replace European components with Chinese ones. Mykhailo says that the main reason for this is the European attitude to sanctions: it makes no sense for European companies to get themselves in trouble by earning only a couple of thousand or tens of thousands of dollars from Russia because the supplies to Russia are indeed prohibited by sanctions.

    “That is, in the regime of export control, this is a punishable violation, quite a serious one for a company that deals only with civilian products while its products can be used somewhere as a dual-use product or for military purposes. Especially if used in the conflict zone, it is better not to deal with such supplies to Russia, That’s why, I believe, European companies are trying to avoid that. Yet, as the Siemens turbines in Crimea show, when it comes to big money, they don’t mind it. Nevertheless, penalties and sanctions for the companies supplying the turbines are slightly different than for suppliers of military goods,” Mykhailo Samus says.


    Unofficial EU arms embargo on Ukraine

    With a number of military supplies to Russia prior to 2014 and some even after the introduction of the EU sanctions, Western-European countries had unofficially banned any military supplies to Ukraine long before the Russo-Ukrainian war and this “embargo” lasts to the present day, Mykhailo Samus states,

    There was another issue with Europe, especially prior to 2016 when Ukraine said the EU, “You’ve got interesting things out there: you supply weapons, military equipment and technology to the aggressor country, while Ukraine has been banned from military supplies since 2008 and from any contacts of a military-technical nature. This was then an implicit embargo on Ukraine, as Ukraine supplied arms to Georgia during the Georgian-Russian war. Nothing has changed since then: Europe — I mean Western Europe — does not supply us (Ukraine, – Ed.) with anything of this kind.

    Russia took note of Israeli drones having seen them in action in Georgia in 2008

    Russia became interested in Israeli drone technologies after it had countered Israeli-made drones operated by Georgia in the days of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war when Russia itself had to resort to sending fighter jets or even bombers to collect intelligence data or adjust artillery fire. In the subsequent years, Russia managed not only to purchase drones of several types in Israel, but Israel also built its drone factory in Russia so that Russia itself started manufacturing licensed Israeli drones.

    Israel believed that providing Russia with its drones would gain a lever to dissuade Moscow from supplying the sophisticated S-300 air defense systems to Iran. In 2010, Russia suspended its 2007 contract with Iran, but in 2015 Putin lifted the ban and started shipping S-300 components to Iran.

    Ukraine didn’t operate any military UAVs at the time of the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian war in the late spring of 2014. However, the country could have developed drone capabilities long before the war if it were not for the reluctance of its political and military leadership of the Yanukovych era, Mykhailo Samus says.

    “Israel had managed to supply drones to Ukraine, too, but the military and political leadership simply didn’t want to buy them. I know for sure that around 2007-2008, one set of Birdeye was purchased in Israel, but it seems to have remained unused in storage,” Mykhailo said.

    Anyway, in September 2014, only a month after its ban of new drone contracts with Russia, Israel also banned all drone supplies to Ukraine, reportedly for maintaining good relations with Russia.


    Sanctions do have an effect on Russia, despite it saying otherwise

    The conclusion I can draw from the CAR study for myself is that the Russians are really experiencing huge problems due to the sanctions, huge problems from the fact that they didn’t have enough time before 2014 to obtain a full production cycle of all UAV components, and the same goes for ship technology in the Mistrals, and aviation technology, and so on. They immediately tried to solve it by turning to China, but it turned out that the Chinese components were of poor quality.

    According to Mykhailo, this applies not only to drones but also to the ship engines that they tried to replace – the diesel motors that they used to buy in Canada, the United States, Finland. The lack of new quality engines causes “huge problems in the Black Sea Fleet.”

    I think that as time goes on, Russia would get more and more sanction-caused problems, that’s why the Russians keep saying that sanctions don’t work, but for some reason, they are constantly trying to get them lifted.





    Find this story on 10 december 2021

    Russian drones shot down over Ukraine were full of Western parts. Can the U.S. cut them off?

    The surveillance drones contained computer chips and components made in the United States and Europe

    In early 2017, Ukrainian forces battling Russia-backed separatists shot down a drone conducting surveillance over the eastern flank of Ukraine.

    The unmanned aircraft, nearly six feet long with a cone-shaped nose and a shiny gray body, had all the external characteristics of a Russian military drone. When researchers cracked it open, however, they found electronic components manufactured by a half-dozen Western companies.

    The engine came from a German company that supplies model-airplane hobbyists. Computer chips for navigation and wireless communication were made by U.S. suppliers. A British company provided a motion-sensing chip. Other parts came from Switzerland and South Korea.

    “I was surprised when we looked at it all together to see the variety of different countries that had produced all these components,” said Damien Spleeters, an investigator with the London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) group, who traveled to Ukraine to dissect several drones. All were loaded with Western electronics.

    Without those parts, said Spleeters, who summarized his findings in a report funded by the European Union and Germany, Russia would have found it “much more difficult to produce and operate the drones for sure.”

    As tensions mount over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials are considering trade sanctions designed to deprive Russia of foreign-made computer chips and electronics. Spleeters’s investigation shows how profoundly the ban could hurt Russia’s military and why it might be hard to pull off.

    Russia is known for its scientists and hackers but makes little of its own electronics or computer hardware, relying largely on imports. Yet blocking the flow of these goods could prove difficult. Some of the drone components that CAR identified traveled to Russia via obscure middlemen and small trading companies whose businesses could be tough to track.

    What’s more, the relatively small quantities that Russia’s military is likely to need might allow it to acquire components surreptitiously, said Malcolm Penn, the chief executive of London-based semiconductor research firm Future Horizons.

    “If you only want 500 or 1,000, it’s easily doable and very hard to stop,” he said. “All throughout the Cold War, when in theory there were no exports to the Soviet Union, that didn’t stop them from getting things. There are always men with suitcases that go out to the Far East and buy stuff and come back.”

    Another big wild card is China, which could thwart any U.S. attempt to choke off chips to Russia. CAR estimated that the drones it examined were built between 2013 and 2016, when Western suppliers were more dominant in the chip industry. China has since become a much bigger manufacturer of electronic components, and is unlikely to fully comply with any attempted blockade, technology experts said.

    Russia relies on Asian and Western countries to supply most of its consumer electronics and computer chips, which are the brains that make electronics function. Russian imports of these goods in 2020 exceeded $38 billion, according to United Nations trade data.

    The Soviet Union had a variety of small semiconductor factories churning out chips, mostly for military use, according to Penn, who visited some of the facilities in the early 1990s. But the Soviet breakup pushed Russia into a long period of turmoil that thwarted development of technology industries and manufacturing.

    “The microelectronics industry was completely decimated in the 1990s,” said Sam Bendett, a Russian-military analyst at the Virginia-based research group CNA. “It was just easier to import these technologies, which were widely available in the global market.”

    The Russian and Ukrainian embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment. Russia retains some manufacturers that produce chips of older designs, including Mikron, which was founded in Soviet times near Moscow. Enterprises in the country also design chips known by the names Baikal and Elbrus — the latter used by the military — but send many of the designs to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest chip foundry, for fabrication.

    Russian defense contractors in recent years have claimed to have revived some domestic manufacturing of high-tech military equipment, including drones and their components, Bendett said.

    The United States and the European Union restrict their exports of defense-related electronics to Russia and have toughened those rules in recent years. Yet Russian networks have found ways around those obstacles. In 2015, several Russian agents were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, federal charges of using a Texas-based company they set up to illegally export high-tech chips to Russian military and intelligence agencies.

    Under the broader blockade that U.S. officials are considering, the United States could compel many countries worldwide to cut their chip exports to Russia by telling them they aren’t allowed to use U.S. technology to make components for Russian buyers. Most chip factories worldwide, including those in China and Taiwan, use U.S. manufacturing tools or software in their production process, analysts said.

    The United States could limit the ban to Russia’s military and high-tech sectors or could apply it more broadly, potentially depriving Russian citizens of some smartphones, tablets and video game consoles, The Washington Post recently reported, citing administration officials.

    CAR determined that the drones it investigated were used for reconnaissance missions in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been fueling a separatist war since 2014.

    At the invitation of Ukraine’s security services, Spleeters from CAR flew to Kyiv in late 2018 to dissect the drone that was shot down in 2017. Using a duffel bag stuffed with screwdrivers, Allen wrenches and cameras, Spleeters disassembled and photographed the aircraft, looking for serial numbers and markings that could help identify where the parts came from.

    He and his colleagues then contacted the component suppliers to try to trace how the parts wound up in the drone. One motion-sensing chip was manufactured by the British company Silicon Sensing Systems, which makes components for drones, car navigation systems and industrial machinery. The company told CAR that it sold the chip in August 2012 to a Russian civilian electronics distributor, sending it through UPS in a package with 50-odd components, according to the CAR report.

    The Russian distributor told Silicon Sensing that the chip was to be used in a drone; it later added that it sold the chip to a Russian entity called ANO PO KSI, which it said purchased such items for educational institutions in Russia, according to the CAR report.

    ANO PO KSI, which is a Russian acronym for Professional Association of Designers of Data Processing Systems, was added to a sanctions list by the United States in 2016 for allegedly aiding Russian military intelligence.

    On its website, ANO PO KSI describes itself as a nonprofit that makes high-tech products, including document scanners and cameras, for the Russian government and business customers. The organization didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    In an email to The Post, Silicon Sensing said it “vigorously” complies “with all export control laws and policies everywhere we do business.” It added, “These components were sold in 2012 to a commercial company that was not on an embargo list at that time. We have ceased doing business with that company and any related entities.”

    The drone also contained U.S.-made components designed for navigation and wireless communication. One of the suppliers, Digi International, based in Minnesota, told CAR that it sold the wireless communications component to a U.S.-based distributor in March 2012, but that the distributor was unable to identify the ultimate recipient, according to the CAR report.

    Digi International told The Post that it screens all sales to be sure it isn’t supplying any prohibited parties in violation of U.S. export control laws. “We do not know how the product in question ended up in a Russian drone. We do not condone the use of our modules by foreign actors in military use cases,” the company said in an emailed statement.

    Maxim Integrated, based in California, told CAR that it manufactured a navigation component found in the drone in 2013 and shipped it to its distributors in January 2014. It added that the component “is not designed for use in unmanned aerial vehicles.”

    Maxim parent company Analog Devices declined to clarify for The Post what the component is used for. In an emailed statement, the company said it “is committed to full compliance with U.S. laws including U.S. export controls, trade sanctions and regulations.”

    Other companies in Switzerland and the United Kingdom told CAR they were unable to track the chain of suppliers that had handled their components. The drone’s engine, a single-cylinder unit with an electronic ignition, traveled a particularly mysterious route, from a small company near Frankfurt, Germany, that makes parts for model airplanes.

    The company, 3W Modellmotoren Weinhold, which did not respond to a request for comment, told CAR that it had sent the engine to World Logistic Group, a company based in the Czech Republic, in October 2013.

    The Czech company, which ceased operations in 2018, could not be reached for comment. The company was founded in the spa town of Karlovy Vary in 2008 by two residents of Moscow, according to Czech business registration documents identified by CAR and reviewed by The Post.

    From 2012 to 2014, a third Moscow-area resident served as a director of the company, according to those documents. CAR researchers found that this person was also a member of an advisory council to the Main Directorate of Public Security for Moscow’s regional government. The directorate was established to “implement state policy in the field of public and economic security,” according to the website of Moscow’s regional government.

    According to CAR, similar drone models have been recovered after flying over Syria and Libya, countries where Russian troops or mercenaries have also engaged in military action. Lithuania, a member of NATO, discovered an identical model that crashed on its territory in 2016. That one contained foreign-made components and Russian software, according to CAR and Lithuanian security services.

    The case shows that Russia uses drones “for intelligence collection not only in conflict zones but also in peacetime in neighbouring NATO countries,” Lithuanian authorities said in a 2019 document.

    By Jeanne Whalen

    February 11, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

    Find this story at 11 Februari 2022
    Russian drones shot down over Ukraine had been filled with Western components. Can the U.S. minimize them off?

    “I used to be stunned after we checked out all of it collectively to see the number of completely different nations that had produced all these elements,” stated Damien Spleeters, an investigator with the U.Okay.-based Battle Armament Analysis (CAR) group, who traveled to Ukraine to dissect a number of drones. All had been loaded with Western electronics.

    With out these components, stated Spleeters, who summarized his findings in a report funded by the European Union and Germany, Russia would have discovered it “far more troublesome to supply and function the drones, for positive.”

    As tensions mount over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officers are contemplating commerce sanctions designed to deprive Russia of foreign-made pc chips and electronics. Spleeters’s investigation exhibits how profoundly the ban might damage Russia’s navy — and why it is perhaps laborious to tug off.

    Russia is thought for its scientists and hackers however makes little of its personal electronics or pc {hardware}, relying largely on imports. But blocking the stream of those items might show troublesome.

    A few of the drone elements that CAR recognized traveled to Russia through obscure middlemen and small buying and selling firms whose companies might be robust to trace.

    What’s extra, the comparatively small portions that Russia’s navy is prone to want may permit it to amass elements surreptitiously, stated Malcolm Penn, the chief government of London-based semiconductor analysis agency Future Horizons.

    “Should you solely need 500 or 1,000 it’s simply doable, and really laborious to cease,” he stated. “All all through the Chilly Struggle, when in concept there have been no exports to the Soviet Union, that didn’t cease them from getting issues. There are at all times males with suitcases that exit to the Far East and purchase stuff and are available again.”

    One other huge wild card is China, which might thwart any U.S. try to choke off chips to Russia. CAR estimated that the drones it examined had been constructed between 2013 and 2016, when Western suppliers had been extra dominant within the chip trade. China has since turn into a a lot greater producer of digital elements, and is unlikely to completely adjust to any tried blockade, know-how consultants stated.

    Russia depends on Asian and Western nations to provide most of its shopper electronics and pc chips, that are the brains that make electronics operate. Russia’s imports of those items in 2020 exceeded $38 billion, in line with United Nations commerce knowledge.

    The Soviet Union had quite a lot of small semiconductor factories churning out chips, principally for navy use, in line with Penn, who visited among the amenities within the early Nineteen Nineties. However the Soviet breakup pushed Russia into an extended interval of turmoil that thwarted growth of high-tech industries and manufacturing.

    “The microelectronics trade was utterly decimated within the Nineteen Nineties,” stated Sam Bendett, a Russian-military analyst on the Virginia-based analysis group CNA. “It was simply simpler to import these applied sciences, which had been extensively obtainable within the international market.”

    The Russian and Ukrainian embassies in Washington didn’t reply to requests for remark.

    Russia retains some producers that produce chips of older designs, together with Mikron, which was based in Soviet occasions close to Moscow. Enterprises within the nation additionally design chips identified by the names Baikal and Elbrus — the latter are utilized by the navy — however ship lots of the designs to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Firm, the world’s largest chip foundry, for fabrication.

    Russian protection contractors in recent times have claimed to have revived some home manufacturing of high-tech navy gear, together with drones and their elements, Bendett stated.

    America and the European Union already prohibit their exports of defense-related electronics to Russia and have toughened these guidelines in recent times. But Russian networks have discovered methods round these obstacles. In 2015, a number of Russian brokers had been convicted of, or pleaded responsible to, federal prices of utilizing a Texas-based firm they set as much as illegally export high-tech chips to Russian navy and intelligence businesses.

    Below the broader blockade that U.S. officers are contemplating, america might compel many nations worldwide to chop their chip exports to Russia by telling them they aren’t allowed to make use of U.S. know-how to make elements for Russian patrons. Most chip factories worldwide, together with these in China and Taiwan, use U.S. manufacturing instruments or software program of their manufacturing course of, analysts stated.

    America might restrict the ban to Russia’s navy and high-tech sectors or might apply it extra broadly, doubtlessly depriving Russian residents of some smartphones, tablets and online game consoles, The Washington Put up just lately reported, citing administration officers.

    On the invitation of Ukraine’s safety companies, Spleeters from CAR flew to Kyiv in late 2018 to dissect the drone that was shot down in 2017.

    Utilizing a duffel bag full of screwdrivers, Allen keys and cameras, Spleeters disassembled and photographed the plane, searching for serial numbers and markings that might assist establish the place the components got here from.

    He and his colleagues then contacted the part suppliers to attempt to hint how the components wound up within the drone.

    One motion-sensing chip was manufactured by the British firm Silicon Sensing Programs, which makes elements for drones, automobile navigation techniques and industrial equipment. The corporate informed CAR that it offered the chip in August 2012 to a Russian civilian electronics distributor, sending it through UPS in a bundle with 50-odd elements, in line with the CAR report.

    The Russian distributor informed Silicon Sensing that the chip was for use in a drone; it later added that it offered the chip to a Russian entity known as ANO PO KSI, which it stated bought such objects for academic establishments in Russia, in line with the CAR report.

    On its web site, ANO PO KSI describes itself as a nonprofit that makes high-tech merchandise, together with doc scanners and cameras, for the Russian authorities and enterprise prospects. The group didn’t reply to a request for remark.

    In an electronic mail to The Put up, Silicon Sensing stated it “vigorously” complies “with all export management legal guidelines and insurance policies in every single place we do enterprise.”

    “These elements had been offered in 2012 to a business firm that was not on an embargo checklist at the moment. We’ve ceased doing enterprise with that firm and any associated entities,” Silicon Sensing added.

    The drone additionally contained U.S.-made elements designed for navigation and wi-fi communication. One of many suppliers, Digi Worldwide, based mostly in Hopkins, Minn., informed CAR that it offered the wi-fi communications part to a U.S.-based distributor in March 2012, however that the distributor was unable to establish the final word recipient, in line with the CAR report.

    Digi Worldwide informed The Put up that it screens all gross sales to make certain it isn’t supplying any prohibited events in violation of U.S. export management legal guidelines.

    “We have no idea how the product in query ended up in a Russian drone. We don’t condone using our modules by overseas actors in navy use circumstances,” the corporate stated in an emailed assertion.

    Maxim Built-in, of San Jose, Calif., informed CAR that it manufactured a navigation part discovered within the drone in 2013 and shipped it to its distributors in January 2014. It added that the part “isn’t designed to be used in unmanned aerial autos.”

    Maxim’s father or mother firm, Analog Gadgets, declined to make clear for The Put up what the part is used for. In an emailed assertion, the corporate stated it “is dedicated to full compliance with U.S. legal guidelines together with U.S. export controls, commerce sanctions and rules.”

    Different firms in Switzerland and the U.Okay. informed CAR they had been unable to trace the chain of suppliers that had dealt with their elements.

    The drone’s engine — a single-cylinder unit with an digital ignition — traveled a very mysterious route, from a small firm close to Frankfurt, Germany, that makes components for mannequin airplanes.

    The corporate, 3W-Modellmotoren Weinhold, which didn’t reply to The Put up’s request for remark, informed CAR that it had despatched the engine to World Logistic Group, an organization based mostly within the Czech Republic, in October 2013.

    The Czech firm, which ceased operations in 2018, couldn’t be reached for remark. The corporate was based within the spa city of Karlovy Differ in 2008 by two residents of Moscow, in line with Czech enterprise registration paperwork recognized by CAR and reviewed by The Put up.

    From 2012 to 2014, a 3rd Moscow-area resident served as a director of the corporate, in line with these paperwork. CAR researchers discovered that this individual was additionally a member of an advisory council to the Principal Directorate of Public Safety for Moscow’s regional authorities.

    The directorate was established to “implement state coverage within the area of public and financial safety,” in line with the web site of Moscow’s regional authorities.

    In line with CAR, related drone fashions have been recovered after flying over Syria and Libya, nations the place Russian troops or mercenaries have additionally engaged in navy motion. Lithuania, a member of NATO, found an equivalent mannequin that crashed on its territory in 2016. That one contained foreign-made elements and Russian software program, in line with CAR and Lithuanian safety companies.

    The case exhibits “that Russia makes use of [drones] for intelligence assortment not solely in battle zones but in addition in peacetime in neighbouring NATO nations,” Lithuanian authorities stated in a 2019 doc.

    British parts found on downed Russian spy drones in Ukraine and EU

    British components have been found in Russian-made spy drones captured by Ukrainian and Lithuanian forces, a report shows.

    The parts are among European kit discovered on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) deployed over Ukraine and neighbouring countries during the conflict in the country’s eastern Donbass region, researchers have found.

    Ukraine is under the threat of invasion, with an estimated 130,000 Russian troops massed over the border and in Belarus and Crimea.

    The three-year investigation suggests that the Kremlin is using an opaque supply line to circumvent EU and US embargoes preventing it from buying electronic components for military use. The study traced the flow of weapons and military vehicles to Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass, who have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

    One of the drones bearing UK-made parts was captured by Ukrainian defence and security forces near the coastal city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region, where the insurgents have established a self-declared republic.

    An autopsy on the equipment by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) found an inertial sensor, a type of measurement unit, made by a British firm named in the report as Silicon Sensing Systems.

    There is no suggestion that the company broke any laws or knew the part would end up being used for military purposes.

    The UAV, which was downed on February 8, 2017, was examined by the researchers as they documented materiel used in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass.

    Another part made by the company was found in a drone that crashed in Lithuania in October 2016, according to CAR.

    The project is ongoing at a time when the US has committed 3,000 additional troops to eastern Europe and NATO allies have sent defensive weaponry and small contingents of personnel to Ukraine.

    The spy drone examined by researchers was found to have a unit made in the UK (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    Damien Spleeters, deputy director of operations at CAR, told Metro.co.uk: ‘The conflict in eastern Ukraine has been covered by the media since 2014 and the common narrative is that the weapons used there are mostly old Soviet equipment. We wanted to put that narrative to the test.

    ‘We found that, as usual, the truth is more complex than that.

    ‘People might not be surprised at hearing that the weapons used in eastern Ukraine almost exclusively come from the Russian Federation, but the Russian drones we examined there held something more unexpected: A lot of their critical components actually come from the EU, the UK, and the US.’

    The report states that Silicon Sensing Systems, which provided information to CAR, sold the DMU02 unit to Radiant-Elcom CJSC, now known as Radiant Group LLC, a Russian civilian electronics distributor.

    Radiant said the end customer was a company serving ‘various educational institutional institutions’ in the country, according to the researchers.

    The final destination was found to be ANO ‘PO KSI’, which produces aerial surveillance systems for the Russian Ministry of Defence.

    The company was sanctioned by the US in 2016 for allegedly aiding Russian military intelligence agency cyber-operations.

    European-made electrical kit has been found on spy drones recovered in Ukraine and EU countries (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    European-made electrical kit has been found on spy drones recovered in Ukraine and EU countries (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    The measurement unit provided by the UK company was sold before August 1, 2014, when the EU and US banned trade in arms or ‘related material’ with Russian firms. Another unit made by the Plymouth-based firm was found on the drone recovered by the Lithuanian authorities.

    The report states that it was most likely sold to Radiant-Elcom between 2014 and 2015. Neither of the commercial parts traced back to the British company are on the UK Strategic Export Control List.

    Another electrical component found on the drone recovered in Ukraine was apparently made by NGK Spark Plugs in Japan, which states on its website that its parts should not be used in flight applications.

    The report documented weapons recovered in eastern Ukraine where the government has been fighting separatists (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    CAR asked the company’s Hertfordshire-based UK branch to assist in tracing the spark plug, but it was not able to determine the origin or supply of the product based on the limited information available to the researchers.


    The disassembled grey drone carries the serial number 2166 and an illegible number on a circuit board, part of a pattern of identifying details being obscured on some of the recovered weapons and vehicles.


    The investigation also found parts sent by a German company to Russian-owned World Logistics Group, which was registered in the Czech Republic before ceasing trading in October 2018.

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    An under-barrel grenade launcher documented in Mariupol (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    A designated marksman rifle documented by researchers (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)


    One of the directors was a ‘Russian citizen with links to political and security agencies of the Russian government’, according to the researchers.


    There is no proof that the company was acting on behalf of the state and CAR is carrying out work to ‘determine its activities and motivation’ in the wake of its report, entitled Weapons of the War in Ukraine.


    Wider use of Russian-made drones is evident from others recovered in EU member states, which have included British, Czech, French, German, Spanish and US components, the researchers say.


    The UAVs are among a wide range of weaponry linked to Russia by CAR, which examined kit linked to the conflict between Ukraine and the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk’s People’s Republics.

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    Detail of an obliterated area from the motherboard of a drone recovered in eastern Ukraine (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)


    The researchers also examined 43 weapons, including assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, landmines, hand grenades, mortars and pistols.


    Factories based in what today is the Russian Federation were found to have made the majority of 4,793 rounds of small-calibre ammunition and all but two of the arms examined.


    Some of the materiel had certain identifying marks ‘obliterated’, probably to conceal evidence of the origin and diversion points for the hardware and components, according to CAR, an independent organisation which investigates weapons flows across the world.

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    A multiple rocket launcher documented by the researchers in Kyiv (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    The rocket launcher was found to have had an identification plaque unscrewed (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)


    The UK and US are among NATO countries that have sent ‘lethal aid’, including portable anti-tank weapons, to Ukraine as tensions with the Kremlin continue to escalate.


    With fresh sanctions threatened by the West as a response to Russian aggression, the report suggests a complex chain of companies is being used to secure components for battlefield gear despite the embargoes.


    Moscow has denied it is planning to invade Ukraine and accused the West of seeking to provoke it into a confrontation in the region.


    Mr Spleeters and his colleagues are continuing to look into several of the cases presented in the report. ‘In this kind of situation, there is always some ebb and flow of conflicting narratives where pieces of information are being used and distorted,’ he said.


    ‘We think it’s crucial to provide a front-line account of what is actually being used, in terms of weapons and equipment, not only against Ukrainian forces in their country, but against EU member states in the case of the drones we’ve documented.’

    NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd was unable to determine the origins and supply route of the component detailed in the report.

    In a statement, the company said: ‘As NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd we distribute spark plugs on a wholesale basis to a variety of automotive, motorcycle and horticultural distributors.

    ‘Our spark plugs are commodity products available via parts distributors, retail accessory shops and the internet etc. Spark plugs are not manufactured in the UK but are distributed only as detailed above.

    ‘The majority of products are actually manufactured by NGK Spark Plug Co. Ltd in Japan, who clearly state on their website that NGK spark plugs should not be used in any flight applications.’

    Metro.co.uk has approached Silicon Sensing Systems for comment.

    Josh Layton

    4 Feb 2022


    Find this story on4 February 2022



    Fears Russian military drones made with British components could target UK soldiers

    Russian-made military drones containing British components are being used by pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine and can now be used to target UK soldiers deployed there in the event of an invasion of Moscow, I to learn.

    Arms experts said an analysis of Russian-made surveillance planes intercepted over Ukraine showed they were made with electronics and mechanical parts originating from Western countries, including the United Kingdom, which are lined up to oppose the Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive strategy toward Kiev.

    It is likely that this equipment will be used against Ukraine in the event of a conflict with Russia in the coming days or weeks. Former military commanders said I They worry that drones could be used against British forces sent to advise Ukraine as they prepare for a possible invasion.

    General Lord Richard Dannatt, former head of the British Army, said the outcome was “entirely possible”. The former Chief of the General Staff added: “Drones have become a reality in the airspace and on the battlefield.”

    When asked if he thought 100 British troops in Ukraine could be targeted by Russian planes, Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan in 2003, said “they certainly could be” if they were operating near the front line.

    He called for “tightening of export regulations and control of exports to Russia of any kind that might have a military advantage.”

    The government said I It intends to clamp down on such sales with new export rules, in clear acknowledgment of existing loopholes

    Britain is one of several countries, including the United States, that in recent weeks has supplied Ukraine with advanced weapons designed to deter a Russian attack. London sent a shipment of advanced anti-tank missiles to Kiev earlier this month.

    But the evidence suggests that Russian defense manufacturers — responsible for largely modernizing President Vladimir Putin’s military machine in recent years — have managed to circumvent export rules to acquire Western components to allow them to produce military equipment likely to be used against Ukraine in the event of a conflict.

    Research conducted by specialists in London has found that six drones shot down in eastern Ukraine as recently as April 2020 contain advanced parts sourced from the West from Russian defense manufacturers.

    More about Ukraine

    According to government figures, Britain officially exports only trace amounts of defense or security equipment to Russia. Since 2015, only £1.5 million licenses have been approved, the vast majority of which are ammunition for sport or hunting.

    But the evidence suggests that advanced materials of importance and use for the Russian military were making their way into the Russian war machine via other routes.

    The study by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), funded by the European Union and the German government, found that a Russian reconnaissance drone, shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2017, contained specialized electronics manufactured by Plymouth-based Silicon Sensing Systems. Ltd.

    There is no indication of any wrongdoing by the company. Her Russian customer, a civilian electronics distributor in Moscow, told her that the “end user” was a company serving “educational institutions”. Because the equipment being sold did not appear on any British government lists of controlled goods, the company did not request an export license for the component and the sale was made before new controls were imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

    Silicon Sensing Systems has not responded to requests from I to comment. But in correspondence with CAR, the company said that none of the items it provided to its Russian customer exceeded the “performance standards” that would have required a UK export license, and that it was given no indication that its products were intended for the defense manufacturer.

    Automotive Research Center investigators found that rather than being destined for use in an educational setting, the final destination of the company component was in fact a supplier of air surveillance systems to the Russian Ministry of Defense. In 2017, the company, PO KSI, was named in sanctions by Washington for allegedly supporting malicious cyber operations by Russian military intelligence.

    The study found that an identical Russian-made drone of the type with a British-made component was found that crashed in Lithuania in 2016. CAR said that this drone contained an updated version of the silicon sensor systems component, but again the part did not meet The threshold for requesting an export license.

    A separate report by Lithuanian authorities found that the drone was on a surveillance mission to Poland and was of the type known to be used by Moscow’s security services.

    How the once dilapidated Russian army is now a deadly force

    Russia’s modern, well-armed and deadly armed forces are the result of a two-decade push by Vladimir Putin to place a new era of military power at the heart of Moscow’s foreign policy.

    When he came to power in 2000, he inherited a nuclear-armed but shrinking post-Soviet army that relied on conscripts and communist-era equipment.

    The Kremlin’s ability in 2022 to deploy an advanced combat force equipped with the latest technology, and in some cases significantly ahead of Western arms, comes on the heels of massive spending to develop the military. The country spends more on defense as a share of GDP than the United States.

    Thus, Moscow can deploy hypersonic missiles allegedly capable of deploying nuclear weapons at 20 times the speed of sound, and has tanks waiting on Ukraine’s border that are among the best aircraft in the world, complete with a state-of-the-art night. Fight the visual system.

    But at the same time, the Russian system has weaknesses. For all its strength in certain sectors, analysts say it lacks the domestic high-tech civilian manufacturing capacity that it has grown in other countries. As a result, Russia’s military-industrial sector has been forced to source technology from abroad, which has led to challenges with export rules and sanctions.

    Kahal Melmo


    The CAR study, which examined Russian-made drones that either crashed or were shot down between 2015 and 2020, found evidence of components from countries including Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, America and the Czech Republic.

    Components believed to have been supplied by British companies included specialized spark plugs and a shipment of electronics delivered in 2020 to a Russian drone maker whose products include the Kremlin’s first armed long-endurance drone, or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).

    “Our analysis and tracing efforts reveal that independent Russian electronics and components distributors obtained … foreign technology on behalf of sanctioned Russian defense and security entities,” the report said.

    A British defense source said I The drones shot down by Ukrainian forces formed part of the known Russian drone fleet and are likely to be used in the event of an invasion. “If things go wrong, the Russians will throw everything they have,” the source said. “And that will certainly include their drone surveillance capabilities.”

    In both Germany and the United States, authorities have investigated allegations that Russian defense companies have deployed similar tactics to obtain advanced materials for night vision equipment, machine tools and semiconductors.

    CAR said there was evidence that Russia was able to take advantage of a “general lack of clarity” about exporters’ responsibility to determine “end-use” and “end-user” components, and the rules regarding “dual-use” technology could be used in both civilian and military applications. .

    Tell Mike Lewis, Head of Investigations for the Central African Republic IExport control regimes in the United Kingdom and the European Union face the same challenges in preventing sophisticated commercial technology from reaching military manufacturers in embargoed destinations such as the Russian Federation.

    “Currently, exporters are not obligated to carry out even basic due diligence towards their customers in such destinations. They simply have to wait until they are told by their government – or less commonly, their customers – that their products are for military purposes. There is no organized system for notifying exporters that Their products are found in military systems.”

    Activists said there was particular concern in Britain about the UK’s ability to verify where products licensed for export had come from.

    Dr Samuel Pirlo Freeman, Research Coordinator for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: “Overall, the UK makes no attempt to pursue the final destination and use of licensed equipment, in most cases. The potential for diversion of military and dual-use equipment provided by the UK is therefore the To unauthorized destinations is great.”

    Former Conservative Trade Secretary Marc Garnier, chair of the Arms Export Controls Committee (CAEC), said on Friday the findings were “extremely concerning” and that it was “critically important” Britain to prevent key technology from reaching its opponents.

    Garnier said that the adequacy of UK end-use controls and verification procedures was a key part of parliamentary scrutiny.

    Tell I: “Reports that British-made goods have been used in eastern Ukraine are of deep concern. It is critical that we prevent the diversion of UK exports for hostile purposes… It also illustrates the need for an export control system that is able to adapt quickly to global changes, not only in terms of demand for new licenses but also those already granted.”

    Labor MP Lloyd Russell Moyle, who sits at the CAEC, said he would ask the commission to investigate whether the findings mean the current system is powerful enough to thwart Moscow’s efforts to acquire British and Western technology.

    Tell I: “An essential part of any arms control regime that people who seek to harm us or our allies cannot obtain the resources or technology that we or our allies produce. If these technologies end up in the hands of the adversary, we should ask very serious questions.”

    The Department for International Trade, which oversees defense exports, said the government was looking to expand the definition of “military end use” to better deal with scenarios in which the sale of UK-made components could lead to threats to “national security, international peace and human rights”.

    A spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry said: “The UK takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world.”

    Fears that Russian military drones built with British components could be used to attack British soldiers during the Ukraine crisis.

    Pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine are using Russian-made military drones with British components, which could now be used to attack UK troops stationed there if Moscow invades.i has learned.

    An analysis of Russian-built surveillance drones intercepted over Ukraine found that they were built with electronics and mechanical parts from Western countries, including the United Kingdom, which are uniting to oppose the Kremlin’s increasingly belligerent strategy toward Kyiv.

    Should a conflict with Russia occur in the coming days or weeks, this equipment is likely to be used against Ukraine. Former military commanders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the current administration’s handlingiThey are concerned that the drones could be used against British forces stationed in Ukraine to advise it as it prepares for a possible invasion.

    Former British Army chief General Lord Richard Dannatt stated that such a scenario was “quite possible.” “Drones are becoming a fact in the airspace and the battle space,” the former Chief of General Staff continued.

    Colonel Richаrd Kemp, who commаnded British forces in Afghаnistаn in 2003, sаid “they certаinly could be” if they were operаting neаr the front line when аsked if he thought the 100 British troops in Ukrаine could be tаrgeted by Russiаn аircrаft.

    He cаlled for “tighter export regulаtions аnd control of аll exports to Russiа thаt could hаve militаry utility.”

    The Government hаs told ithаt it intends to use new export rules to crаck down on such sаles, implying thаt existing loopholes аre being exploited.

    The United Kingdom is one of severаl countries, including the United Stаtes, thаt hаve recently provided Ukrаine with аdvаnced weаponry аimed аt deterring а Russiаn аttаck. Eаrlier this month, London delivered to Kyiv а shipment of аdvаnced аnti-tаnk missiles.

    However, evidence suggests thаt Russiаn defence mаnufаcturers – who hаve been responsible for significаntly upgrаding President Vlаdimir Putin’s militаry mаchine in recent yeаrs – аre аble to get аround export restrictions to obtаin Western components, аllowing them to produce militаry equipment thаt could be used аgаinst Ukrаine if а conflict аrises.

    Six drones shot down in eаstern Ukrаine аs recently аs April 2020 contаined sophisticаted pаrts sourced from the West by Russiаn defense mаnufаcturers, аccording to reseаrch conducted by London-bаsed experts.

    Officiаlly, the United Kingdom exports only smаll аmounts of defense аnd security equipment to Russiа, аccording to government stаtistics. Since 2015, only £1.5 million in licenses hаve been grаnted, the vаst mаjority of which аre for sporting or hunting аmmunition.

    However, evidence suggests thаt аdvаnced militаry mаteriаl of interest аnd utility to Russiа’s militаry hаs entered Moscow’s wаr mаchine through other chаnnels.

    One Russiаn-mаde surveillаnce drone shot down over eаstern Ukrаine in 2017 contаined speciаlist electronics mаnufаctured by а Plymouth-bаsed compаny, Silicon Sensing Systems Ltd, аccording to а study by Conflict Armаment Reseаrch (CAR), which wаs funded by the Europeаn Union аnd the Germаn government.

    The compаny hаsn’t been аccused of аny wrongdoing. The ultimаte “end user” wаs а compаny serving “educаtionаl institutions,” аccording to its Russiаn customer, а civiliаn electronics distributor in Moscow. The compаny did not need аn export licence for the component becаuse it did not аppeаr on аny UK government lists of controlled goods, аnd the sаle took plаce before new controls were imposed following Russiа’s аnnexаtion of Crimeа in 2014.

    Silicon Sensing Systems hаs yet to respond to our requests.ito аdd to the discussion However, in а letter to CAR, the compаny stаted thаt none of the items it hаd provided to its Russiаn customer exceeded “performаnce pаrаmeters” thаt would hаve required а UK export license, аnd thаt it hаd received no indicаtion thаt its products were destined for а defense mаnufаcturer.

    The finаl destinаtion of the compаny’s component, аccording to CAR investigаtors, wаs а supplier of аeriаl surveillаnce systems to the Russiаn Ministry of Defense, rаther thаn being used in аn educаtionаl environment. PO KSI wаs sаnctioned by the US in 2017 for аllegedly аssisting Russiаn militаry intelligence in mаlicious cyber operаtions.

    An identicаl Russiаn-mаde drone to the type found with the UK-mаde component crаshed in Lithuаniа in 2016, аccording to the study. This drone, аccording to CAR, hаd аn updаted version of the Silicon Sensing Systems component, but the pаrt did not meet the threshold for requiring аn export license once аgаin.

    The drone hаd been on а surveillаnce mission to Polаnd, аccording to а sepаrаte report by Lithuаniаn аuthorities, аnd wаs of the type used by Moscow’s security services.


    How Russiа’s once-derelict militаry hаs been trаnsformed into а deаdly force

    Vlаdimir Putin’s two-decаde push to plаce а new erа of militаry might аt the center of Moscow’s foreign policy hаs resulted in Russiа’s well-аrmed аnd lethаl modern аrmed forces.

    He inherited а nucleаr-аrmed, but otherwise depleted post-Soviet militаry reliаnt on conscripts аnd Communist-erа equipment when he cаme to power in 2000.

    The Kremlin’s аbility in 2022 to deploy а sophisticаted fighting force complete with cutting-edge technology, in some cаses significаntly аheаd of Western weаponry, follows vаst spending to upgrаde the militаry. The country spends more on defence аs а shаre of GDP thаn even the United Stаtes.

    Consequently, Moscow cаn deploy hypersonic missiles аllegedly cаpаble of deploying nucleаr weаpons аt 20 times the speed of sound, аnd hаs tаnks wаiting on Ukrаine’s borders which аer considered аmong the best in the world, complete with а stаte-of-the-аrt night-fighting opticаl system.

    At the sаme time, however, the Russiаn system hаs weаknesses. For аll its prowess in certаin sectors, аnаlysts sаy it lаcks the home-grown civiliаn high-tech mаnufаcturing cаpаcity thаt other countries do. As а result, the Russiаn militаry-industriаl sector hаs been forced to source technology from аbroаd, running the gаuntlet of export rules аnd sаnctions.

    Cаhаl Milmo


    The CAR study, which scrutinised Russiаn-mаde drones which either crаshed or were shot down between 2015 аnd 2020, found evidence of components from countries including Britаin, Frаnce, Germаny, Spаin, Switzerlаnd, Americа аnd the Czech Republic.

    The components believed to hаve been supplied by UK compаnies included speciаlist spаrk plugs аnd а consignment of electronics delivered in 2020 to а Russiаn militаry drone mаnufаcturer whose products include the Kremlin’s first long-endurаnce аrmed drone, or UAV (Unmаnned Aeriаl Vehicle).

    The report sаid: “Our аnаlysis аnd trаcing efforts reveаl thаt independent Russiаn electronics аnd component distributors аcquired… foreign technology on behаlf of sаnctioned Russiаn defence аnd security entities.”

    A UK defence source told i thаt the drones downed by the Ukrаiniаn forces formed pаrt of the known Russiаn UAV fleet аnd were likely to be used in the event of аn invаsion. The source sаid: “If things go hot, then the Russiаns will throw everything they’ve got аt it. Thаt would certаinly include their UAV surveillаnce cаpаbilities.”

    In both Germаny аnd the US, the аuthorities hаve investigаted аllegаtions thаt Russiаn defence compаnies hаve deployed similаr tаctics to obtаin аdvаnced mаteriаls for night vision equipment, mаchine tools аnd semiconductors.

    CAR sаid there wаs evidence thаt Russiа hаd been аble to benefit from а “generаl lаck of clаrity” over the responsibility of exporters to estаblish the “end use” аnd “end user” of components, аnd the rules concerning “duаl use” technology, cаpаble of being used in both civiliаn аnd militаry аpplicаtions.

    Mike Lewis, heаd of investigаtions for CAR, told i: “Both UK аnd EU export control regimes fаce the sаme chаllenges of preventing sophisticаted commerciаl technology reаching militаry mаnufаcturers in embаrgoed destinаtions like the Russiаn Federаtion.

    “At present, exporters hаve no obligаtion to undertаke even bаsic due diligence on their customers in such destinаtions. They simply hаve to wаit until they аre told by their government – or, less commonly, their customers – thаt their products аre destined for militаry purposes. And there is no orgаnised system for notifying exporters thаt their products hаve been found in militаry systems.”

    Cаmpаigners sаid thаt in Britаin there wаs а pаrticulаr concern over the UK’s аbility to check where products licensed for export end up.

    Dr Sаmuel Perlo-Freemаn, reseаrch co-ordinаtor аt Cаmpаign Agаinst Arms Trаde, sаid: “In generаl, the UK does not mаke аny аttempt to follow up on the finаl destinаtion аnd use of licenced equipment, in most cаses. The potentiаl for diversion of UK-supplied militаry аnd duаl-use equipment to unаuthorised destinаtions is therefore substаntiаl.”

    Former Conservаtive trаde minister Mаrk Gаrnier, the chаirmаn of the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), sаid on Fridаy thаt the findings were “deeply concerning” аnd it wаs “pаrаmount” for Britаin to prevent key technology reаching its аdversаries.

    Mr Gаrnier sаid thаt the аdequаcy of Britаin’s end-use controls аnd verificаtion procedures wаs а key pаrt of Pаrliаmentаry scrutiny.

    He told i: “Reports thаt UK-mаnufаctured goods аre being used in eаstern Ukrаine аre deeply concerning. It is pаrаmount thаt we prevent UK exports being diverted for аdversаriаl purposes… It аlso illustrаtes the need for аn export controls system thаt is аble to аdаpt аt speed to globаl chаnges, not just in terms of new licence аpplicаtions but аlso those аlreаdy grаnted.”

    Lаbour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who sits on CAEC, sаid he would be аsking the committee to investigаte whether the findings meаn the current system is sufficiently robust to thwаrt Moscow’s efforts to obtаin British аnd Western technology.

    He told i: “It is а fundаmentаl pаrt of аny аrms control system thаt people who seek to hаrm us or our аllies аre not аble to obtаin the resources or technology produced by us or our аllies. If these technologies аre ending up in the hаnds of аn аdversаry, we should be аsking very serious questions.”

    The Depаrtment for Internаtionаl Trаde, which oversees defence exports, sаid the Government wаs looking to broаden the definition of “militаry end use” to better аddress scenаrios where the sаle of UK-mаde components could leаd to threаts to “nаtionаl security, internаtionаl peаce аnd humаn rights”.

    A DIT spokesperson sаid: “The UK tаkes its export control responsibilities very seriously аnd operаtes one of the most robust аnd trаnspаrent export control regimes in the world.”

    By Cahal Milmo, Joe Duggan
    Find this story on 5 Februari 2022
    Fox-IT in Rusland (samenvatting)

    Het Delftse computer- en beveiligingsbedrijf Fox-IT verkoopt sinds 2010 haar producten in Rusland en is hier na de invoering van de internationale sancties tegen het land in 2014 mee doorgegaan. De Nederlandse overheid is een belangrijke klant van Fox-IT. Het bedrijf verzorgt onder andere de beveiliging van staatsgeheimen.

    De Rus Evgeny Gengrinovich speelt een sleutelrol in de handel van Fox-IT met Rusland. Hij werkte in het verleden voor verschillende Russische staatsbedrijven. Vanaf 2011 promoot hij de Fox DataDiode namens het Zwitserse Snitegroup GmbH en het Russische ZAO NPF Simet. Later presenteert hij zich als vertegenwoordiger van Fox-IT en heeft hij een sleutelrol bij het aantrekken van andere tussenhandelaren.

    De tussenhandelaren van Fox-IT hebben nauwe banden met Russische staatsbedrijven in de energiesector en de financiële sector, maar ook met het Russische Ministerie van Defensie, defensiebedrijven en de Russische inlichtingendienst FSB. Het Delftse bedrijf heeft in het algemeen weinig zicht op de eindgebruikers aan wie haar producten door tussenhandelaren worden aangeboden en doorverkocht.

    Gengrinovich heeft zelf ook banden met defensie en de FSB. Zo deed hij van 2010 tot 2014 certificeringswerk voor de FSTEC (Federal Service for Technical and Export Control) en het Ministerie van Defensie. In september 2017 treedt hij als adviseur in dienst van het Russische informatiebeveiligingsbedrijf Infotecs. In 2018 wordt dit bedrijf op de Amerikaanse sanctielijst geplaatst vanwege haar banden met de Russische inlichtingendienst FSB.

    Na de invoering van de internationale sancties in 2014 gaat Fox-IT door met de verkoop van haar producten in Rusland. De oorlog in Oost-Oekraïne, de annexatie van de Krim, het neerhalen van vlucht MH17 en het instellen van de internationale sancties tegen Rusland hebben geen invloed op de verkoopactiviteiten.


    Verkoop in Rusland na de sancties

    In 2015 verkrijgt Fox-IT zelfs de Russische certificering voor de Fox DataDiode. Het vergroot daarmee haar toegang tot de Russische markt. De FSTEC, dat verantwoordelijk is voor de Russische certificering van de DataDiode, valt onder het Ministerie van Defensie en werkt samen met de FSB.

    Over de FSTEC-certificering en het keuringsbedrijf Echelon, dat ook de DataDiode onderzocht, bestaan al sinds 2013 twijfels. In 2017 beoordeelt het gerenommeerde Amerikaanse cybersecurity bedrijf Symantec het certificeringsproces als onvoldoende onafhankelijk van de Russische Staat en ziet het zelfs af van samenwerking met de FSTEC en Echelon.

    In 2015 is de Fox DataDiode door ARinteg, een Moskous bedrijf in informatiebeveiliging, te koop aangeboden aan onder andere Russische banken. Volgens commercieel directeur Dmitry Slobodenyuk van ARInteg heeft het bedrijf de Datadiode na de invoering van de internationale sancties in 2014 in ieder geval verkocht aan een van de grootste banken van Rusland.

    Veel Russische banken en hun topmannen zijn op de Amerikaanse en Europese sanctielijsten geplaatst vanwege hun banden met de Russische defensie-industrie. Het betreft veelal klanten van ARinteg, zoals de staatsbank Vnesheconombank VEB en de Alfa Bank, een bank die nauw verweven is met de Russische defensie-industrie.

    Fox-IT zelf onderkent tot 2015 te hebben geleverd aan Rusland, ook aan de Russische overheid. Het Delftse bedrijf maakt echter niet bekend aan welke overheidsinstanties het heeft geleverd. Het gaat echter in ieder geval om een levering van de Fox DataDiode aan het staatbedrijf RusHydro. Vanwege de nauwe banden van dit bedrijf met het Kremlin worden verschillende topmannen van RusHydro in 2018 op de Amerikaanse sanctielijst geplaatst.



    De Fox DataDiode is een soort eenrichtingsverkeer firewall tussen een publiek en een privaat netwerk waarmee toegang tot vertrouwelijke informatie gereguleerd kan worden. Het behoort sinds 2009 tot de dual-use goederen: goederen met een civiele toepassing, die ook een militaire toepassing kennen, waarvoor een exportvergunning vereist is. Volgens Fox-IT zijn overheidsinstellingen in de hele wereld, waaronder de defensie-industrie, belangrijke potentiële klanten voor de Fox DataDiode.

    In 2011 beschikte Fox-IT over een globale exportvergunning specifiek voor de Fox Datadiode, waarmee het kon exporteren naar Rusland. In 2012 en 2013 verkreeg het een exportvergunning voor ‘apparatuur voor informatiebeveiliging’ waaronder naast de DataDiode ook andere Fox-IT producten zoals Redfox en Skytale kunnen vallen. Tot op heden heeft het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken niet bekend gemaakt of, en hoeveel, exportvergunningen Fox-IT sinds 2013 heeft aangevraagd en gekregen. De export van dual-use goederen zonder exportvergunning naar landen buiten de Europese Unie, waaronder Rusland, is in beginsel strafbaar.


    Fox-IT reageert niet op vragen van Buro Jansen & Janssen

    Op 7, 13, 19 en 20 mei 2021 heeft Buro Jansen & Janssen Fox-IT om commentaar verzocht op de bevindingen van dit onderzoek. Het Delftse bedrijf heeft tot op heden niet gereageerd. Evgeny Gengrinovich reageert ook niet op vragen van Buro Jansen & Janssen.


    Buro Jansen & Janssen juni 2021


    Artikel als pdf

    Fox-IT in Rusland (onderzoek)

    Fox-IT in Russia (summary)

    Het NFI en TNO werkten met Fox-IT aan een Surveillance Lab in Saoedi-Arabië tijdens de Arabische Lente

    Fox-IT en de Nederlandse overheid

    Documenten bij het onderzoek naar Fox-IT

    Observant #77 / juni 2021 Fox-IT in Rusland (pdf)

    Onderzoek: Fox-IT in Rusland (pdf)

    Fox-IT en het Nederlandse exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen

    Sinds de Arabische Lente zijn meerdere westerse computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven in opspraak geraakt vanwege hun leveranties aan repressieve regimes in het Midden-Oosten. Sommige bedrijven zijn daarvoor ook juridisch vervolgd. Ook in Nederland stond de export van Nederlandse bedrijven (waaronder Fox-IT) naar landen in het Midden-Oosten rond 2011 in de politieke en publieke belangstelling.

    Het Midden-Oosten was vanaf 2006 een belangrijke afzetmarkt voor het Nederlandse bedrijf Fox-IT, actief op de markt voor de surveillance-industrie in de regio. Volgens Dirk Peeters (toenmalig Vice President Business Development van het bedrijf) maakte Fox-IT in de periode 2008-2011 met de internationale verkoop een totale omzet van 20 miljoen euro. De helft hiervan (10 miljoen euro) betrof de verkoop van producten aan ‘LEA (Law Enforcement Agencies)’, waarvan 4 miljoen euro in het Midden-Oosten.

    Fox-IT richtte zich in het Midden-Oosten met name op de verkoop van de FoxReplay (interceptie-apparatuur om internetverkeer al dan niet real time te analyseren) en de DataDiode (apparatuur waarmee toegang tot vertrouwelijke informatie tussen een publiek en een privaat netwerk kan worden gereguleerd).

    De export van dual-use goederen (goederen met een civiele toepassing, die ook een militaire toepassing kunnen hebben, en waartoe ook IT-technologie en software kunnen behoren) naar landen buiten de Europese Unie is vergunningsplichtig. Bedrijven dienen een exportvergunning aan te vragen bij de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen – deze valt sinds 2013 onder het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, en daarvoor onder het Ministerie van Economische Zaken.

    In dit onderzoek gaat Buro Jansen & Janssen in op de beoordeling door de Nederlandse overheid van de aanvragen voor exportvergunningen van Fox-IT in de periode 2006-2013, met bijzondere aandacht voor de export van het bedrijf naar het Midden-Oosten.


    Onderzoek Buro Jansen & Janssen

    Uit documenten die door de Nederlandse overheid via de Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur openbaar zijn gemaakt blijkt dat Fox-IT in de periode 2006-2010 geen enkele exportvergunning heeft aangevraagd, en dat het bedrijf nooit een exportvergunning heeft aangevraagd voor de FoxReplay.

    In de periode 2011-2013 ontving Fox-IT jaarlijks een globale exportvergunning voor de DataDiode waarmee het kon exporteren naar klanten in de hele wereld. Hiermee bestond het risico dat de producten van het bedrijf in handen kwamen van repressieve regimes in het Midden-Oosten, zeker daar Fox-IT exporteerde naar partnerbedrijven die haar producten in de regio doorverkochten.

    Het exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen vereist een risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik te voorkomen. Daarvan was in de praktijk echter geen sprake omdat de Afdeling Exportcontrole meer prioriteit gaf aan het faciliteren van de export van het bedrijf.

    In 2011 uitte de Tweede Kamer haar zorgen over mogelijk misbruik van door Nederlandse computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven (waaronder Fox-IT) geëxporteerde dual-use producten aan landen in het Midden-Oosten. Fox-IT had een bepalende rol bij de beantwoording van Kamervragen. Ook bij beantwoording van WOB-verzoeken heeft het bedrijf veel invloed op welke informatie door de overheid openbaar wordt gemaakt.


    Export zonder vergunning

    Fox-IT heeft in de periode 2006-2010 geen enkele exportvergunning aangevraagd en heeft nooit een exportvergunning aangevraagd voor de FoxReplay. Het is echter duidelijk dat het bedrijf haar producten (waaronder FoxReplay) in deze periode heeft geëxporteerd, ook naar landen buiten de Europese Unie.

    Na de oprichting van het bedrijf in 1999 werd Fox-IT steeds meer internationaal actief. Zo schreef het bedrijf in december 2006 in haar nieuwsbrief dat het ‘een internationale sales force heeft opgericht waarmee we voornamelijk producten aan law enforcement organisaties zullen aanbieden. Denk hierbij aan de data diode, de tapanalyse software FoxReplay en onze cryptografische producten.’ Het bedrijf breidde haar internationale sales force in de hierop volgende jaren uit: in 2010 bestond deze uit acht accountmanagers en sales engineers.

    Fox-IT berichtte zelf ook over de export van de FoxReplay. Op 26 september 2011 meldde het bedrijf in een persbericht: ‘FoxReplay Analyst is in gebruik door overheidsinstellingen over de hele wereld. FoxReplay Analyst biedt analisten vertrouwde en gedetailleerde real-time interpretatie van internetactiviteiten van de gebruikers op een logische manier in de juiste context.’

    Fox-IT exporteerde in de periode 2006-2010 ook de DataDiode. Peter Geytenbeek (sinds 2014 international salesmanager van Fox-IT) verklaarde in 2017 dat het bedrijf de DataDiode sinds 2008 naar landen in de hele wereld exporteert: ‘Since 2008 Fox-IT has successfully installed over hundreds of Fox DataDiode’s in over 40 countries, covering every geographical region except Antarctica.’

    De handelwijze van Fox-It roept vragen op. Het exporteren van dual-use goederen zonder exportvergunning naar landen buiten de Europese Unie is in beginsel strafbaar.


    Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten

    Het Midden-Oosten werd vanaf 2006 een belangrijke afzetmarkt voor Fox-IT, waarbij het zich vooral richtte op de verkoop van de FoxReplay en de DataDiode. Het bedrijf berichtte hierover in haar eigen nieuwsbrieven en websites. Het bedrijf maakte in haar ‘Fox bericht’ van december 2006 melding van de aanstelling van Matthijs van der Wel als Manager Business Development EMEA (Europe Middle East Africa). In november 2007 werd hij opgevolgd door Rens de Wolf.

    Volgens zijn LinkedIn account was Van der Wel van november 2007 tot maart 2010 ‘International sales manager for Fox-IT (crypto and lawful interception) products in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Target groups are governmental bodies with a need for state secret level security and/or active in the lawful interception/SIGINT business.’

    Volgens Dirk Peeters (van 2008 tot 2011 Vice President Business Development van het bedrijf) bedroeg de omzet van de verkoop aan Law Enforcement Agencies in het Midden-Oosten in deze periode 4 miljoen euro. Volgens Peeters exporteerde Fox-IT tussen 2008 en 2011 naar Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Saoedi-Arabië, Israël en Jordanië. Dirk Peeters werkte na Fox-IT bij Netscout en BAE Systems AI alvorens te solliciteren bij het Italiaanse bedrijf Hacking Team.

    Fox-IT gaf in haar nieuwsbrieven en websites enige ruchtbaarheid over haar activiteiten in het Midden-Oosten, zoals deelname aan beurzen en bezoeken aan de regio. Het bedrijf heeft nooit duidelijk gemaakt aan welke landen in de regio het wel en niet heeft geleverd, maar publiceerde wel enige details over haar verkoopactiviteiten.

    Zo berichtte het in 2008 op haar website dat het aftaptechnologie exporteerde aan politie en intelligence diensten in het Midden-Oosten: ‘In other parts of the world, including the Middle east and the USA, Fox-IT is represented by partners offering selected Fox-IT solutions. In 2006 the foundation of FoxReplay took place. This business unit develops for the analysis of intercepted internet traffic for police and intelligence organisations all over the world. Her market has expanded to big parts of Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and America.’

    De Nederlandse overheid was op de hoogte van de verkoopactiviteiten van het bedrijf in het Midden-Oosten. Fox-IT was van 2007 tot 2011 jaarlijks met een infokraam of presentaties aanwezig op de ISS (Intelligence Support Systems) World MEA (Middle East and Africa), een handelsbeurs voor afluister- en surveillance-apparatuur.

    Deze beurzen werden bezocht door medewerkers van legers, politie en inlichtingendiensten uit verschillende landen in het Midden-Oosten. Ook de Nederlandse overheid bezocht deze beurzen: in 2007 alleen ambtenaren van het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken, in 2008 ook ambtenaren van Justitie en Defensie, en in de jaren hierna bezochten ook de Nederlandse politie en het Openbaar Ministerie ISS World beurzen in het Midden-Oosten en Europa.

    Ook ambtenaren van het Ministerie van Economische Zaken (waaronder de Afdeling Exportcontrole tot 2013 viel) bezochten ISS beurzen. Tevens benaderde het Ministerie van Economische Zaken in 2008 Fox-IT voor deelname aan een onderzoek naar de defensie gerelateerde industrie in Nederland. Het aanschrijven van het bedrijf voor dit onderzoek duidt erop dat het Ministerie op de hoogte was dat Fox-IT dual-use goederen produceerde en exporteerde.

    Het Ministerie heeft via de WOB enige informatie over het onderzoek openbaar gemaakt. In de vragenlijst die Fox-It op 4 januari 2008 door het Ministerie werd toegestuurd, werd het bedrijf onder meer gevraagd: ‘Richt u zich met uw defensiewerkzaamheden op de Nederlandse of op de buitenlandse markt’ (vraag 22) en ‘In welke landen u voornamelijk actief bent?'(vraag 23). Het is niet bekend of (en hoe volledig) Fox-IT de vragenlijst heeft ingevuld, omdat de antwoorden van Fox-IT en de uitkomsten van het onderzoek niet openbaar zijn gemaakt.

    Fox-IT had ook met Nederlandse ambassades in het Midden-Oosten contact over haar verkoopactiviteiten in de regio. In 2007 gaf het bedrijf tijdens tours door de regio besloten workshops aan overheidsinstanties, militairen en inlichtingendiensten in onder meer Egypte, Syrië, Saoedi-Arabië en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten, vooral gericht op de verkoop van de FoxReplay en DataDiode.

    Matthijs van der Wel had tijdens deze tours afspraken met vertegenwoordigers van Nederlandse ambassades in Saoedi-Arabië en Syrië. Zo had hij op 20 mei 2007 een lunchafspraak met de Nederlandse ambassade in Damascus. Een dag later (op 21 mei) gaf hij een workshop aan vertegenwoordigers van de Syrische overheid en inlichtingendiensten in het Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus.

    Fox-IT werkte in de regio zelfs samen met twee overheidsorganen, het NFI (Nationaal Forensisch Instituut) en TNO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek). De samenwerking betrof de voorbereidingen van het Surveillance Lab in Saoedi-Arabië in 2011, het opzetten van een landelijk netwerk van telefoon- en internetsurveillance onder verantwoordelijkheid van het Saoedische Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken.

    De Nederlandse overheid was dus op allerlei manieren op de hoogte van de verkoopactiviteiten van Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten. Het vormde voor de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen echter geen aanleiding om het bedrijf hierop aan te spreken en te wijzen op haar wettelijke verplichting een exportvergunning aan te vragen.


    2011-2013 Export met vergunningen

    De Nederlandse overheid heeft enkele documenten openbaar gemaakt over door Fox-IT ingediende aanvragen voor exportvergunningen in de periode 2011-2013. Het bedrijf ontving in deze periode drie globale vergunningen voor klanten van Fox-IT in de gehele wereld (m.u.v. moeilijke landen).

    De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen baseert zich bij de beoordeling van aanvragen voor exportvergunningen op de Europese lijst voor dual-use goederen (opgenomen als bijlage I in de dual-use verordening 428/2009). Voor de producten van computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven is met name categorie 5 (Telecommunicatie en informatiebeveiliging) relevant. De lijst bevat geen namen van specifieke producten, maar verschillende categorieën van productomschrijvingen met bijbehorende codes. Exportvergunningen zijn in beginsel een jaar geldig, maar soms worden er vergunningen voor een langere periode verleend.

    De overheid publiceert sinds 2004 een overzicht van de verstrekte exportvergunningen: de Maandelijkse Rapportage uitvoer dual-use goederen. De Rapportage bevat een beperkte hoeveelheid informatie. De naam van het exporterende bedrijf wordt niet gepubliceerd. Ook de naam van het product waarvoor een exportvergunning is verleend wordt in het overzicht niet genoemd, maar slechts een algemene omschrijving (zoals bijvoorbeeld ‘apparatuur voor informatiebeveiliging’).

    Exportvergunningen worden vaak verleend voor export naar een specifiek land. Er worden echter ook globale exportvergunningen verleend voor ‘de wereld m.u.v. moeilijke landen’ (Noord-Korea en Iran). Hierbij is het dus onbekend naar welke landen een bedrijf exporteert en is er geen zicht op de eindgebruiker en eindtoepassing. De rapportage vermeldt evenmin of een bedrijf exporteert naar een partnerbedrijf, dat de producten vervolgens weer doorverkoopt, waarmee er dus nog minder zicht is op de eindgebruiker.

    Het exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen suggereert een risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik te voorkomen. Het Handboek Strategische Goederen en Diensten stelt: ‘Het Nederlands dual-use exportcontrolesysteem is gebaseerd op risicoanalyses. De nadruk ligt bij de controle vooraf. Het gaat er om met behulp van risicoanalyses en, waar nodig, het verkrijgen van extra waarborgen, de risico’s van ongewenst gebruik of doorgeleiding naar een onwenselijke bestemming tot een minimum te beperken.’

    Uit een reconstructie van de afhandeling van de aanvragen voor de exportvergunningen in 2011-2013 blijkt dat er in de praktijk nauwelijks sprake is van een risicoanalyse. Fox-IT verstrekt de Afdeling Exportcontrole nauwelijks informatie over de eindgebruikers van de te exporteren producten. De Afdeling vraagt het bedrijf nauwelijks om informatie, die noodzakelijk is voor het maken van een risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik te voorkomen.


    Eerste aanvraag exportvergunning

    Op 17 februari 2011 doet Fox-IT voor de eerste keer een aanvraag voor een exportvergunning. Het bedrijf vraagt een globale exportvergunning aan voor klanten van Fox Crypto in de gehele wereld (m.u.v. moeilijke landen). De aanvraag is voor de DataDiode (Fort Fox hardware data diode FFHDD2+) met als eindgebruik ‘het koppelen van hoog gerubriceerde netwerken aan laag gerubriceerde netwerken’. De aanvraag wordt binnen enkele dagen (op 21 februari) gehonoreerd en is een jaar geldig.

    Opvallend is een opmerking in het pre-advies van het CDIU (Centrale Dienst voor In en Uitvoer van de Douane): ‘Het product is recentelijk goedgekeurd voor EAL 7+. Hierdoor is het op de lijst van dual-use goederen gekomen.’ De informatie in het pre-advies is afkomstig van Fox-IT.

    Fox-IT refereert hiermee aan de EAL-7 certificering, die het in juni 2010 voor de DataDiode verkreeg. EAL (Evaluation Assurance Level) is een internationale norm voor IT-veiligheidscertificeringen, EAL-7 is het hoogste gegarandeerde waarderingsniveau. Fox-IT stelt dat de DataDiode pas na het verkrijgen van de EAL-7 certificering vergunningsplichtig is geworden.

    Dit is echter onjuist, aangezien ook producten met een lagere EAL certificering vergunningsplichtig kunnen zijn. In 2009 verkreeg Fox-IT voor de DataDiode al een EAL-6 certificering, waarmee het product in ieder geval vergunningsplichtig werd. Volgens het Handboek Strategische Goederen zijn vergunningsplichtig: telecommunicatie en informatiebeveilingsproducten met de code 5A002a7 (niet-cryptografische beveiligingssystemen en –voorzieningen voor informatie- en communicatietechnologie (ICT), met een beveiligingsniveau hoger dan of gelijkwaardig aan klasse EAL-6)

    De opmerking over de EAL-certificering leidt bij de Afdeling Exportcontrole echter niet tot vragen aan het bedrijf. Het ontgaat de Afdeling dat de export van de DataDiode al eerder vergunningsplichtig was en de Afdeling vraagt het bedrijf niet of het de DataDiode in voorgaande jaren geëxporteerd heeft.

    Wanneer bedrijven een exportvergunning aanvragen voor een product dat cryptografie bevat dienen zij een zogenaamd cryptoformulier in te vullen. Fox-IT voegt bij de aanvraag echter geen cryptoformulier bij. Volgens het bedrijf bevat de DataDiode geen cryptografie, hoewel het op haar website als een van haar cryptografische producten genoemd wordt. Het CDIU pre-advies vermeldt: ‘Het product is door certificering op de Cryptolijst gekomen, terwijl het geen crypto bevat. Het beschermt netwerken gebaseerd op de wetten van de fysica en niet met crypto.’

    De Afdeling vraagt Fox-IT niet naar het cryptoformulier. Door het cryptoformulier niet in te vullen hoeft Fox-IT minder informatie te verschaffen over de eindgebruikers. In het cryptoformulier wordt bedrijven namelijk gevraagd om aan te geven tot welke van de vier categorieën (financiële instelling, overheidsinstelling, bedrijf, particulier) de eindgebruikers behoren.


    De klanten van Fox-IT

    Met het verstrekken van een globale exportvergunning heeft de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen geen zicht op de eindgebruikers. Fox-IT mag niet exporteren naar de zogenaamde ‘moeilijke landen’ (zoals Noord-Korea en Iran), maar verder bevat de vergunning geen beperkingen aan welke landen en klanten het bedrijf de DataDiode kan leveren.

    Fox-IT verstrekt de Afdeling geen informatie wie haar ‘klanten in de gehele wereld’ zijn. Het kunnen overheidsinstellingen zijn, maar ook partnerbedrijven die de DataDiode doorverkopen. De Afdeling verzoekt het bedrijf echter niet om nadere informatie te verstrekken over haar klanten. Van een risicoanalyse over mogelijk ongewenst eindgebruik is hierdoor geen sprake. Zeker daar Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten samenwerkt met partnerbedrijven die haar producten in de regio doorverkopen.

    In het Midden-Oosten werkt Fox-IT vanaf 2006 samen met het Duitse bedrijf AGT (Advanced German Technology). AGT had kantoren in Syrië, Egypte, Saoedi-Arabië en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten, en verkocht technologie van Westerse bedrijven door aan landen in het Midden-Oosten. Tot haar klanten behoorden overheidsinstellingen, zoals het Egyptische Ministerie voor Communicatie en Informatie Technologie en het Syrische staatsbedrijf STE (Syria Telecommunication Establishment), dat toezicht houdt op de telecommunicatie in het land.

    Fox-IT en AGT sloten in 2007 een reseller agreement. Hierin waren geen voorwaarden opgenomen over aan welke klanten AGT de producten van Fox-IT kon doorverkopen. Fox-IT had zelf weinig zicht op wie de eindgebruikers waren van de door het bedrijf geëxporteerde producten en voor welke doeleinden deze gebruikt werden. Gezien de klantenkring van AGT was er een reëel risico dat de producten van Fox-IT terecht kwamen in landen met repressieve regimes, zoals Syrië, Egypte en Saoedi-Arabië.

    Een andere partner van Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten is GSN (Global Security Network), een Frans bedrijf dat gevestigd is in Dubai. Fox-It werkt sinds 2010 samen met het bedrijf, dat regeringen, militairen en inlichtingendiensten in het Midden-Oosten als klant heeft. GSN omschrijft zichzelf als een bedrijf met ‘experience in delivering high-end IT Security projects in Middle East since 1999’ en vermeldt op haar website: ‘GSN is serving government defense and intelligence organizations. As such GSN has achieved the status of being a ‘trusted’ security vendor for these organizations.’

    GSN opereert als reseller van de DataDiode in het Midden-Oosten. GSN communiceert geen details over de landen en klanten aan wie het de DataDiode verkoopt. In november 2010 berichtte Fox-IT in haar nieuwsbrief Fox Files over de levering van de DataDiode aan een inlichtingendienst in een land in het Midden-Oosten: ‘At the moment, Fox-IT is represented by partners in the Middle East and the United States, among others. A recent example is a project where Fox-IT and partner GSN (Global Security Network) implemented the Fox Data Diode for an intelligence service.’


    Contact over FoxReplay

    Twee maanden na de toekenning van de eerste exportvergunning zoekt Fox-IT opnieuw contact met de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen. Op 27 april 2011 mailt een medewerker van Fox-IT: ‘Naar aanleiding van de gesprekken die mijn collega’s (…) onlangs met jullie hebben gehad, vroeg ik mij af of het mogelijk is een praktijksituatie waar wij momenteel voor staan aan jullie voor te leggen. Ik doe het stiekem alvast.’

    Fox IT refereert met ‘de gesprekken’ aan een gesprek op 12 april tussen het Ministerie van Economische Zaken en enkele Nederlandse computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven, naar aanleiding van in maart gestelde Kamervragen over mogelijke export van IT-technologie aan repressieve regimes in het Midden-Oosten.

    Het gaat om een verzoek om levering van de FoxReplay: ‘een partner (…) heeft gevraagd of wij FoxReplay Analyst kunnen leveren aan de (…) Met behulp van FoxReplay Analyst kan onderschept Internet- en ander IP-verkeer op eenvoudige wijze inzichtelijk en doorzoekbaar gemaakt worden. Vooralsnog is niet bekend hoe de (…) de oplossing precies wil inzetten. Wel is gevraagd of we een demonstratie kunnen verzorgen in (…).’

    Het Ministerie maakt niet openbaar om welk land en om welke instantie het gaat – deze informatie is onleesbaar gemaakt. Uit de WOB-documenten wordt evenmin duidelijk of Fox-IT in dit geval een exportvergunning heeft aangevraagd.

    Het is de eerste (en enige) keer dat Fox-IT met de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen contact zoekt over de FoxReplay. Dit is opmerkelijk, omdat het bedrijf zich al sinds 2006 richt op de internationale verkoop van het product. De mail van Fox-IT leidt bij de Afdeling echter niet tot vragen aan het bedrijf. De Afdeling vraagt niet waarom het voor de Replay niet eerder een exportvergunning heeft aangevraagd, en vraagt niet naar welke landen en klanten het de Replay in voorgaande jaren heeft geëxporteerd.



    Vanwege het aflopen van de in februari 2011 verleende vergunning vraagt Fox-It een jaar later, op 28 maart 2012, een nieuwe exportvergunning aan. Het betreft wederom een globale exportvergunning voor klanten van Fox Crypto in de wereld (m.u.v. moeilijke landen). De aanvraag betreft deze keer niet alleen de DataDiode, maar ook de producten RedFox en SkyTale. RedFox is een cryptomodule. SkyTale is een high-security-netwerkversleuteling voor het tactische en mobiele domein.

    Fox-IT vult (in tegenstelling tot de eerste aanvraag van februari 2011) het cryptoformulier summier in. Bij de vraag naar de eindgebruikers zijn beide categorieën (overheidsinstellingen en niet-overheidsinstellingen) aangevinkt. Fox-IT kondigt aan dat het cryptoformulier later per fax zal toezenden.

    In tegenstelling tot de vorige aanvraag verzoekt de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen het bedrijf nu wel om aanvullende informatie over zowel de dual-use toepassing van de producten als de eindgebruikers. Gedurende 2011 stond de mogelijke export van aftaptechnologie door Nederlandse bedrijven aan repressieve regimes in het Midden-Oosten in de politieke en publieke belangstelling. Mogelijk heeft de Afdeling hierdoor nu meer aandacht voor het maken van een risicoanalyse van mogelijk ongewenst eindgebruik.

    Er vindt overleg plaats. De Afdeling vraagt het bedrijf om meer informatie over de dual-use toepassing van de DataDiode, RedFox en SkyTale. Een interne notitie vermeldt: ‘DataDiode, hoogwaardige technologie, level 7 (EAL), behoort tot de top 3 in de wereld. RedFox, hoogwaardige crypto, Stg niveau, gemaakt in opdracht. SkyTale, hoogwaardige crypto, voor lage bandbreedte.’

    Ook wil de Afdeling meer informatie ontvangen over de eindgebruikers. Een medewerker van de Afdeling vermeldt in een interne notitie van 27 juni: ‘Bedrijf gaat nieuwe aanvraag doen; (…) stelt voor geen algemene vergunning af te geven omdat hij wil weten wie wat ontvangt.’

    De aanvraag komt te vervallen. Op 19 juli meldt de Afdeling aan het CDIU: ‘Het bedrijf is op 13 juli bij het Ministerie EL&I op bezoek geweest. Aldaar besproken dat het bedrijf een nieuwe aangepaste aanvraag in gaat dienen.’

    Met het verzoek om nadere informatie te verstrekken over de dual-use toepassing en de eindgebruikers geeft de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen dus invulling aan de beleidsmatig vereiste risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik te voorkomen. Tegelijkertijd moet het de Afdeling (wederom) duidelijk zijn geworden dat Fox-IT in voorgaande jaren heeft geëxporteerd zonder een exportvergunning aan te vragen. Zo mailt het bedrijf op 25 juli: ‘(…) onze hartelijke dank voor de ontvangst op 17 juli, waarbij we hebben kennisgemaakt, en veel hebben geleerd over de zaken die komen kijken bij bet internationaal verkopen van de producten van Fox Crypto.’


    Sluitende administratie

    Fox-IT gaat aan de slag met de voorbereidingen van een nieuwe aanvraag. In de mail van 25 juli 2012 kondigt het bedrijf aan voor de DataDiode een ‘globale vergunning op maat’ aan te vragen. Voor de RedFox wordt vanaf 2013 ‘per project een individuele vergunning (…) aangevraagd’. SkyTale, dat nog wel was opgenomen in de aanvraag van maart 2012, wordt door het bedrijf niet meer genoemd.

    Voor de DataDiode verstrekt Fox-IT een landenlijst en een lijst met wederverkopers – deze zijn in de WOB-documenten onleesbaar gemaakt. Tevens meldt het bedrijf: ‘We houden een sluitende administratie bij van uitgeleverde (en geretourneerde) exemplaren, zowel export buiten de EU, als leveringen binnen de EU en binnen (…) Per kwartaal informeren we EL&I met een overzicht van uitgeleverde (en geretourneerde) exemplaren.’

    Het is onduidelijk of het bedrijf daadwerkelijk over een administratie van de export van de DataDiode beschikt en of het deze met de Afdeling Exportcontrole heeft gedeeld. Het Ministerie heeft een dergelijke administratie niet openbaar gemaakt.

    Voor RedFox verstrekt Fox-IT geen lijst met landen en wederverkopers. Het bedrijf schrijft: ‘Dit speelt vanaf begin 2013.’ Deze opmerking suggereert dat het bedrijf RedFox nog niet eerder geëxporteerd heeft. Dit is opmerkelijk omdat het bedrijf al sinds 2005 bezig is met de ontwikkeling van het product. De Afdeling vraagt het bedrijf echter niet om verduidelijking en of het RedFox in voorgaande jaren geëxporteerd heeft.

    Fox-IT somt op hoe de procedure voor de RedFox zal verlopen: ‘Per project zal een individuele vergunning worden aangevraagd. De vergunningen worden vooraf doorgesproken met het (…). De verwachting is dat het advies van (…) leidend zal zijn. (…) Er zal een zeer nauwkeurige administratie wordt bijgehouden zodat elk exemplaar gevolgd kan worden.’

    Ook met betrekking tot RedFox is het niet bekend of het bedrijf een dergelijke nauwkeurige administratie van de export heeft bijgehouden en aan de Afdeling heeft verstrekt. Het Ministerie heeft deze niet openbaar gemaakt.


    Tweede globale exportvergunning

    Enkele maanden later, op 26 september 2012, dient Fox-IT de nieuwe aanvraag in. Fox-It vraagt (wederom) een globale exportvergunning aan voor klanten in de hele wereld. De vergunning wordt op 12 oktober toegewezen. Opmerkelijk genoeg wordt de naam van het te exporteren product in de toekenning niet vermeld, maar wordt de algemene term ‘apparatuur voor informatiebeveiliging’ (met als eindgebruik netwerkbeveiliging) gehanteerd.

    Uit de toekenning kan eigenlijk niet worden opgemaakt voor welk product de exportvergunning wordt verleend. De in de toekenning genoemde SG Post code 5A002a7 lijkt er echter op te duiden dat de vergunning wordt verleend voor de DataDiode.

    Fox-IT noemt RedFox in de aanvraag niet, hoewel het bedrijf het product in de aanvraag van maart nog had opgenomen en het in juli nog aankondigde RedFox vanaf 2013 te gaan exporteren. De Afdeling verzoekt echter niet om verduidelijking en vraagt niet of het bedrijf voornemens is om RedFox onder deze exportvergunning te gaan exporteren, of dat het voor RedFox nog een aparte exportvergunning zal aanvragen. Het Ministerie heeft via de WOB geen informatie over andere exportaanvragen voor RedFox openbaar gemaakt.

    Fox-IT vraagt een globale exportvergunning aan voor klanten in de hele wereld. Hiermee verschilt de aanvraag niet met de in maart ingediende aanvraag. De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen had toen nog bezwaren vanwege het gebrek aan informatie over de eindgebruikers, maar de Afdeling laat deze bezwaren nu vallen. Het gebrek aan informatie over de eindgebruikers vormt geen beletsel meer voor het verlenen van een globale exportvergunning, het maken van een risicoanalyse van mogelijk ongewenst eindgebruik heeft geen prioriteit meer.

    De Afdeling is vervolgens ook behulpzaam bij een probleem tussen Fox-IT en de douane. Fox-IT heeft bij de aanvraag geen cryptoformulier bijgevoegd, hoewel het bedrijf in maart 2012 nog aankondigde het cryptoformulier toe te zullen zenden. De Afdeling vraagt het bedrijf niet meer naar het cryptoformulier, maar de douane doet dit wel. Fox-IT informeert de Afdeling hierover en mailt op 25 september: ‘Douane Groningen vraagt om een cryptoformulier (…) Ik heb begrepen dat jij even in de telefoon klimt.’

    De contactpersoon van de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen mailt een dag later vanuit Wenen terug: ‘Uit Wenen kan ik je berichten dat een cryptoformulier niet nodig zal zijn. Je krijgt nog bericht. Zaak zal er niet door worden opgehouden. Excuses voor ogenschijnlijk geharrewar.’


    Faciliteren export heeft prioriteit

    Het faciliteren van de export van Fox-IT heeft bij het verlenen van de exportvergunning in oktober 2012 dus meer prioriteit dan het maken van een risicoanalyse over mogelijk ongewenst eindgebruik. De Afdeling Exportcontrole is het bedrijf in dezelfde periode ook behulpzaam bij een andere kwestie.

    Op 5 oktober 2012, mailt Fox-IT de Afdeling voor het maken van een afspraak: ‘Fox Crypto is benaderd met de vraag of we één onze IT-beveiligingsproducten (…) zouden kunnen/willen leveren aan (…) De toepassing van het product en het doelland zijn zodanig dat we graag even met jullie van gedachten zouden willen wisselen om te bepalen of daar bezwaren aan kleven.’ Het gaat om het product SkyTale, dat door Fox-IT ook was opgenomen in de aanvraag van maart 2012 (maar in de maanden hierna door het bedrijf niet meer werd genoemd). De naam van het ontvangende land is in de WOB-documenten onleesbaar gemaakt.

    Er volgt een afspraak op 16 oktober met als onderwerp de ‘exportvraag over een ongebruikelijk land’. De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen verzoekt om nadere informatie over de dual-use toepassing van SkyTale en over de eindgebruikers, en mailt op 19 oktober: ‘We hebben op dit moment dus te weinig informatie om die inschatting te kunnen maken of het militair dan wel civiel product betreft dat zou worden uitgevoerd. Er is echter ook een ander probleem. Het zou ook behulpzaam zijn als jullie meer kunnen achterhalen over de identiteit van de eindgebruiker.’

    Fox-IT antwoordt niet en verstrekt de gevraagde informatie niet. De Afdeling blijft het bedrijf echter stimuleren om de aanvraag door te zetten, waarbij het haar bezwaren over het ontbreken van informatie over de dual-use toepassing en de eindgebruikers gaandeweg laat vallen.

    De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen mailt het bedrijf op 2 november, omdat de indeling van SkyTale in dual-use, militair en/of SG Post (telecom toepassing) niet duidelijk wordt. De Afdeling dringt er echter niet op aan de gevraagde duidelijkheid te verschaffen, maar stelt voor om de indeling te negeren: ‘In dit geval denk ik dat dat de zaak te veel zou vertragen. Laten we die stap maar overslaan.’

    De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen maakt wel de volgende inschatting: ‘Op basis van de huidige informatie die je overlegt neig ik ernaar te concluderen dat het een dual-use product betreft, 5A002a1 (crypto). Mogelijk is er ook een dual use 5A001 SG Post telecom van toepassing, kijk daar even naar graag. Deze conclusie onder voorbehoud want ben afhankelijk van wat jij zegt uiteindelijk te gaan doen.’

    Fox-IT beantwoordt ook deze mail niet, waarna de Afdeling op 8 november een herinnering stuurt: ‘Ik weet niet of je nog overweegt de zaak formeel in te dienen om voor een vergunning in aanmerking te komen? Als je het indient bij de CDIU, kan je mij eventueel een seintje geven. Ik ben dan in elk geval alert op de voortgang in de stukkenstroom.’

    Nadat het bedrijf wederom niet antwoordt, mailt de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen op 10 december: ‘Ik begrijp van de CDIU dat er tot op heden nog geen aanvraag voor de (gemodificeerde) SkyTale is binnen is gekomen. (…) Kan het inderdaad kloppen dat jullie nog niet aan de aanvraag toe zijn, of zien we hier iets over het hoofd?’

    De gang van zaken is opmerkelijk en vergelijkbaar met de gang van zaken rond de verlening van de exportvergunning in oktober 2012. In plaats van te wachten tot Fox-IT de gevraagde informatie verstrekt, geeft de Afdeling prioriteit aan het faciliteren van de voortgang van de aanvraag en laat het haar bezwaren vanwege het gebrek aan informatie varen.


    Fox-IT kent eindgebruiker niet

    De mail van 10 december wordt wel beantwoord door Fox-IT. Het bedrijf geeft aan nog steeds geen antwoord op de vragen over de dual-use toepassing van SkyTale. Het wordt nu wel echter duidelijk dat Fox-IT de vragen over de eindgebruikers niet kan beantwoorden: ‘Ik heb de klant gevraagd om adres-details van de eindgebruiker, die benodigd zijn voor de sondage, maar ik heb tot nu toe nog geen antwoord ontvangen.’

    De mail geeft inzicht in de relatie van Fox-IT met deze wederverkoper. Ondanks herhaaldelijk vragen ontvangt Fox-IT van haar partnerbedrijf geen nadere informatie over de eindgebruiker, en blijkt het dus niet te weten aan welke klant haar partnerbedrijf haar product SkyTale wil doorverkopen.

    Dit leidt bij de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen echter niet tot reflectie over de risico’s van het verlenen van globale exportvergunningen. Fox-IT exporteert ook onder deze vergunningen naar partnerbedrijven, die de producten vervolgens doorverkopen. Het is zeer voorstelbaar dat Fox-IT door haar partnerbedrijven ook in deze gevallen niet geïnformeerd wordt over de identiteit van de eindgebruikers.

    De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen ziet echter geen aanleiding om Fox-IT nadere informatie te vragen over de klanten naar wie het bedrijf onder de twee verstrekte globale exportvergunningen heeft geëxporteerd. De Afdeling vraagt evenmin naar de afspraken die Fox-IT hierover met haar wederverkopers heeft, en of deze het bedrijf informeren over de identiteit van de eindgebruikers aan wie zij producten doorverkoopt. De Afdeling toont ook geen terughoudendheid bij het verstrekken van een nieuwe globale exportvergunning in 2013.


    Derde globale exportvergunning

    Op 30 oktober 2013 vraagt Fox-IT – vanwege het aflopen van de in 2012 verleende vergunning – een nieuwe exportvergunning aan bij de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen (die inmiddels valt onder het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken). Het betreft een aanvraag voor een globale exportvergunning (m.u.v. moeilijke landen) voor klanten van Fox Crypto met als eindgebruik ‘beveiligde eenwegkoppeling voor vertrouwde en niet vertrouwde omgeving’.

    Fox-IT verstrekt bij de aanvraag geen eenduidige informatie over voor welk product de exportvergunning wordt aangevraagd. Het bedrijf geeft in een begeleidende e-mail van 1 november aan dat het een exportvergunning aanvraagt voor de DataDiode. Volgens het pre-advies van de CDIU is de aanvraag voor ‘een beveiligingsproduct zonder cryptografie met een EAL-7 certificaat’, hetgeen duidt op de DataDiode. In het aanvraagformulier noemt het bedrijf de naam van het product echter niet, maar gebruikt het de algemene term ‘apparatuur voor informatiebeveiliging’. Hieronder zouden – naast de DataDiode – dus ook andere producten (zoals RedFox en SkyTale) kunnen vallen.

    De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen vraagt het bedrijf echter niet om een verduidelijking. De exportvergunning wordt op 20 december 2013 verleend. In de toekenning wordt geen productnaam vermeld, maar alleen de algemene term ‘apparatuur voor informatiebeveiliging’.

    Net als bij de toekenning van de twee eerdere exportvergunningen in 2011 en 2012 vraagt de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen het bedrijf niet om nadere informatie over de eindgebruikers. Het toezicht op de eindgebruiker lijkt nu zelfs nog verder te worden uitgehold.

    Fox-IT vermeldt in het aanvraagformulier als ‘lidstaat waar de aangifte ten uitvoer zal worden gedaan’ naast Nederland namelijk ook Estland. Dit betekent dat Fox-IT voornemens is om vanuit Estland te exporteren, terwijl het bedrijf geen vestiging in Estland heeft. Mogelijk betekent dit dat het Estse partnerbedrijf Hermitage Solutions op basis van de exportvergunning producten van Fox-IT gaat exporteren. De Afdeling vraagt Fox-It echter niet om een verduidelijking en vraagt niet naar de redenen waarom het in de aanvraag refereert aan Estland.


    Zorgvuldige risicoanalyse?

    Het exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen suggereert een zorgvuldige risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik van dual-use goederen (zoals IT-technologie en software) te voorkomen. Volgens het Handboek Strategische Goederen wordt een vergunning ‘alleen verleend als de overheid de overtuiging heeft dat de goederen worden gebruikt voor het opgegeven en acceptabel bevonden eindgebruik.’

    Van een zorgvuldige risicoanalyse is in de periode 2011-2013 geen sprake. Het wordt de Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen op verschillende momenten duidelijk dat Fox-IT in voorgaande jaren heeft geëxporteerd zonder exportvergunning, maar de Afdeling stelt hierover geen nadere vragen aan het bedrijf.

    Fox-IT verkrijgt in 2011, 2012 en 2013 jaarlijks een globale exportvergunning, waarmee het kan exporteren naar klanten in de hele wereld. Fox-IT geeft nauwelijks informatie over de eindgebruikers naar wie het exporteert, en de Afdeling vraagt nauwelijks om nadere informatie. Hoewel het bij de Afdeling bekend is dat Fox-IT samenwerkt met partnerbedrijven die de producten van het bedrijf doorverkopen, vormt ook dit voor de Afdeling geen aanleiding om het bedrijf te vragen om meer informatie over de eindgebruikers te verstrekken.

    Met het verlenen van globale exportvergunningen bestaat het risico dat producten van Fox-IT in handen komen van repressieve regimes in bijvoorbeeld het Midden-Oosten. De Afdeling geeft echter meer prioriteit aan het faciliteren van de export van Fox-IT, dan aan het maken van een risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik te voorkomen. Bij de aanvragen voor exportvergunningen weet Fox-IT haar belangen succesvol te behartigen en komt de Afdeling Exportcontrole het bedrijf tegemoet.

    Eenzelfde beeld kwam in 2011 naar voren bij de politieke discussie over het exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen. De Tweede Kamer sprak haar zorgen uit over mogelijk misbruik van door Nederlandse bedrijven (waaronder Fox-IT) geëxporteerde IT-technologie en software naar het Midden-Oosten. De minister van Economische Zaken was niet bereid om hiernaar nader onderzoek te doen, maar gaf Fox-IT een invloedrijke rol bij de beantwoording van Kamervragen. Dit wordt duidelijk uit interne correspondentie die via de Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur openbaar is gemaakt.


    Minister heeft geen overzicht voor handen

    Op 15 maart 2011 stelt GroenLinks Tweede Kamerlid El-Fassed Kamervragen aan de minister van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en Innovatie (zoals het Ministerie destijds genoemd werd) over de deelname van Nederlandse bedrijven aan de ISS World surveillance beurs in Dubai.

    De minister wordt gevraagd om een overzicht ‘van recente en lopende contracten van Nederlandse bedrijven met overheden en telecombedrijven in het Midden-Oosten en Afrika omtrent de levering van technologie voor en expertise over het aftappen, filteren en blokkeren van telecommunicatie.’ Ook wordt de minister gevraagd om een nader onderzoek in te stellen naar de risico’s van ongewenst eindgebruik van door Nederlandse bedrijven geëxporteerde producten.

    De beantwoording van de minister van 12 april 2011 is summier. Hij antwoordt dat er van dergelijke contracten van Nederlandse bedrijven ‘geen overzicht voor handen is’. De vraag naar een mogelijk nader onderzoek wordt door de minister niet beantwoord, maar hij zegt wel toe in gesprek te gaan met een aantal computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven (waaronder Fox-IT).

    De minister verzuimt de Kamer te informeren dat Fox-IT in de periode 2006-2010 geen exportvergunningen heeft aangevraagd, terwijl het evident was dat Fox-IT in deze jaren exporteerde – ook naar landen in het Midden-Oosten. De export van Fox-IT zonder exportvergunning had aanleiding kunnen zijn voor nader onderzoek. Zeker daar Fox-IT in een e-mail aan het Ministerie onderkent dat Nederlandse bedrijven aftaptechnologie exporteren.

    Op 11 april 2011 schrijft een Fox-IT medewerker: ‘Voorts suggereert hij nu dat bedrijven in NL zijn die filter software/hardware exporteren. Ik denk dat dat niet juist is. Tappen wel, maar censureren gebeurt niet.’ Deze mail had aanleiding kunnen zijn om nader onderzoek te doen naar de export van Nederlandse bedrijven, waaronder Fox-IT. Het Ministerie laat het echter passeren.


    Ministerie wordt gesouffleerd door Fox-IT

    Het Ministerie van Economische Zaken wordt gesouffleerd door Fox-IT. Het bedrijf wil duidelijk maken dat het zich bewust is van de risico’s van mogelijk ongewenst eindgebruik van de door het bedrijf geëxporteerde producten, en dat het bedrijf hiernaar handelt. Deze boodschap wordt door het Ministerie overgenomen.

    Het door de minister toegezegde gesprek met een aantal computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven bedrijven (waaronder Fox-IT) vindt op 12 april 2011 plaats – op dezelfde dag als de Kamerbrief. Op 15 april legt het Ministerie aan Fox-IT een concept nieuwsbericht over het gesprek voor, met de vraag: ‘Ik verneem graag of u akkoord bent met dit bericht.’

    Enkele dagen later (op 18 april) antwoordt Fox-IT kribbig: ‘Van onze kant moet ik toch wat moeilijk kijkende gezichten melden.’ Het bedrijf is niet tevreden met het concept want ‘het Ministerie schetst de indruk dat onze bedrijven voorafgaande aan het gesprek nog niet zo kritisch waren over leveringen in landen met moeilijke situaties. (…) Dit beeld kwam ook al bij de oorspronkelijke beantwoording van de Kamervragen naar voren en wij (Fox-IT) herkennen ons daar niet in.’

    Vervolgens dicteert Fox-IT het Ministerie een aanpassing in het bericht: ‘Wij zouden een alinea zoals de volgende daarom waarderen: Tijdens de bijeenkomst kon geconstateerd worden dat voornoemde bedrijven zich reeds zeer bewust waren van het potentieel tot misbruik en een leveringsbeleid voerden om dit te zo veel mogelijk te voorkomen.’

    Een dag later (op 19 april) heeft het Ministerie de voorgestelde aanpassingen verwerkt en antwoordt: ‘Het lijkt me inderdaad niet goed de indruk te wekken dat jullie tot afgelopen week niet over deze thematiek hebben nadachten. We hebben geprobeerd zoveel als mogelijk je opmerking in het bericht te verwerken.’

    Elf minuten later reageert Fox-IT, omdat men nog steeds niet helemaal tevreden is: ‘Wij herkennen ons nog steeds niet voldoende in dit bericht, terwijl onze naam wel genoemd wordt.’ Exact 23 minuten later antwoordt het Ministerie: ‘Hopelijk kunnen we met bijgaande nieuwe versie jullie zorgen wegnemen. Is het voor jullie zo akkoord?’ Twee minuten later antwoordt een Fox-IT medewerker het Ministerie: ‘Dit dekt de lading goed, dank voor je inzet.’

    Het Ministerie neemt het tekstvoorstel van Fox-IT over en vermeldt in het nieuwsbericht van 19 april 2011: ‘Tijdens het gesprek gaven de bedrijven aan nu al zeer kritisch om te gaan met levering van hun producten aan landen waar de mensenrechtensituatie te wensen overlaat.’

    Tevens kondigt het nieuwsbericht aan dat overheid en bedrijven zich gezamenlijk gaan inspannen: ‘Bedrijven die internetbeveiliging exporteren gaan zich samen met de overheid inspannen om misbruik van deze technologieën tegen te gaan. Zowel de bedrijven als de overheid onderschrijven het belang van internetvrijheid en onderkennen de gevaren van mogelijk misbruik van beveiligingstechnologieën.’

    Hiermee worden de zorgen van de Kamer dus op een weinig concrete wijze geadresseerd. Opmerkelijk genoeg vindt Fox-IT dit zelf ook. Het bedrijf mailt het Ministerie op 18 april 2011: ‘Wij blijven het gevoel hebben dat een zalvende verklaring zoals nu voorgesteld mogelijk juist meer zorgen genereert dan minder, maar ik kan me goed voorstellen dat de wens bestaat iets uit te doen gaan.’


    Beantwoording Kamervragen

    Op 17 oktober 2011 stelt El-Fassed (GL) een tweede set Kamervragen over de export van internetfilters en aftaptechnologie door Nederlandse bedrijven, waaronder Fox-IT. Hij vraagt of het in april gevoerde gesprek met de bedrijven tot concrete stappen heeft geleid, zoals ‘de ontwikkeling van een toetsbaar beleid voor maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen op basis van de OESO-richtlijnen voor multinationale ondernemingen’.

    Net als bij het opstellen van het nieuwsbericht speelt Fox-IT ook bij de beantwoording van deze Kamervragen een invloedrijke rol. Het Ministerie vraagt het bedrijf om assistentie en mailt op 18 oktober: ‘Ik zou graag van u horen of er initiatieven zijn die u heeft genomen sinds het gesprek op het Ministerie van ELI, die we zouden kunnen gebruiken bij het beantwoorden van deze vragen?’

    Drie dagen later, op 21 oktober, stuurt het Ministerie een herinnering. In september heeft Fox-IT haar divisie FoxReplay ondertussen verkocht aan het Amerikaanse bedrijf Netscout. Het Ministerie blijft echter aandringen: ‘Ik hoop dat Fox-IT ook medewerking wil verlenen bij het beantwoorden van deze Kamervragen.’ Op 26 oktober antwoordt Fox-IT: ‘Fox-IT is zelf niet meer actief in de wereld van Lawful Interception dus ik vermoed dat de beantwoording zeer beperkt kan blijven.’

    Blijkbaar wil Fox-IT toch betrokken zijn bij de beantwoording van de Kamervragen, want op 27 oktober volgt een gesprek tussen het Ministerie en het bedrijf. Het Ministerie legt de concept-antwoorden op 21 november aan Fox-IT voor: ‘Ik wil u vragen om te bevestigen dat u akkoord kunt gaan met de vermelding van uw antwoorden zoals verwoord in antwoord 3. Ik heb de vrijheid genomen hier en daar een klein beetje te redigeren, maar heb getracht uw antwoorden zoveel mogelijk intact te laten.’ Fox-IT is tevreden en antwoordt met een smiley: ‘Geen bezwaar. Voor zover dat bericht niet al binnen was gekomen.’

    Fox-IT krijgt zijn zin. In de Kamerbrief van 18 januari 2012 worden de bedrijven die bij het gesprek aanwezig waren geciteerd. In de Kamerbrief wordt zeer summier verwezen naar Fox-IT verwezen in een zin, welke integraal afkomstig is uit de e-mail van het bedrijf van 26 oktober: ‘Fox IT is niet langer actief op het gebied van Lawful Interception. Alle activiteiten op dit gebied zijn overgenomen door het Amerikaanse bedrijf NetScout.’

    Het Ministerie en Fox-IT hebben niet meer gesproken over eventuele concrete stappen die het bedrijf heeft ondernomen, zoals de ontwikkeling van een beleid maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen. In de Kamerbrief wordt de vraag naar de ontwikkeling van een beleid maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen niet beantwoord.


    Nog altijd actief in het Midden-Oosten

    Tijdens de politieke discussie over het exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen weet Fox-IT haar belangen bij het Ministerie van Economische Zaken succesvol te behartigen. Het Ministerie verricht geen nader onderzoek en informeert de Kamer niet dat het bedrijf tot 2011 heeft geëxporteerd zonder exportvergunning.

    Het Ministerie doet de zorgen van de Kamer af met de opmerking dat Fox-IT niet langer actief is op het gebied van Lawful Interception. Dit is niet waar. Ook na de verkoop van haar divisie FoxReplay aan Netscout in september 2011 blijft Fox-IT actief op de internationale markt voor Lawful Interception producten, ook in het Midden-Oosten.

    Sinds 2010 is Fox-IT bezig met ontwikkeling van Tracks Inspector, een softwaretool om digitale informatie te filteren. Vanaf 2012 exporteert het bedrijf Tracks Inspector, ook naar landen in het Midden-Oosten waarbij het samenwerkt met partnerbedrijven die het product doorverkopen. In september 2014 gaat Tracks Inspector door als zelfstandig bedrijf, waarbij Fox IT een minderheidsaandeel blijft behouden.

    Hans Henseler (managing partner van Fox-IT en mede-ontwikkelaar van Tracks Inspector) verklaart bij de lancering van het nieuwe bedrijf in september 2014: ‘Wel zijn we in gesprek met andere bijzondere opsporingsdiensten. We zijn op dit moment eigenlijk alleen nog niet actief in China, Rusland en Zuid-Amerika.’ Het nieuwe bedrijf meldt in een persbericht: ‘De Tracks Inspector oplossing zal verder worden ontwikkeld en geleverd aan politie en zakelijke klanten via channel partners in Europa, Midden-Oosten, Azië en Noord-Amerika.’

    Fox-IT richt zich nog altijd op de internationale verkoop van de DataDiode. Volgens Peter Geytenbeek (sinds 2014 International Sales Manager van Fox-IT) verkoopt het bedrijf de DataDiode aan meer dan 40 landen. Hij verklaart in 2017: ‘Despite the increasing importance of data diode technology, the Netherlands R&D position on data diodes remains quite small globally. Cybersecurity and IT company Fox-IT is the only Netherlands-based stakeholder which is successful in exporting its technology to more than 40 countries.’

    Fox-IT werkt in het Midden-Oosten nog steeds samen met haar in de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten gevestigde partnerbedrijf GSN (Global Security Network). GSN legt zich toe op het leveren van de DataDiode aan overheidsinstellingen, militairen en law enforcement in de regio. Zo is GSN met presentaties van de DataDiode aanwezig op de ISS World beurzen in de regio.

    GSN vermeldt op haar website: ‘We focus on delivering specialized IT Security solutions such as Fox It DataDiode and Sentryo ICS monitoring solution to customers like Government High Security, Military, Law Enforcement and Critical National Infrastructure as well as Oil and Gas Companies.’

    Het is niet bekend of, en hoeveel, exportvergunningen Fox-IT sinds 2013 heeft aangevraagd. De Nederlandse overheid heeft via de WOB alleen documenten openbaar gemaakt die betrekking hebben op de periode t/m 2013.

    Uit de Maandelijkse Rapportage Uitvoer Dual-use Goederen van het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken valt niet op te maken hoeveel exportvergunningen Fox-IT sinds 2013 heeft verkregen. Wel wordt uit de rapportage duidelijk dat het Ministerie jaarlijks tientallen exportvergunningen verstrekt aan Nederlandse computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven in de categorie telecommunicatie en informatiebeveiliging. Het gaat zowel om exportvergunningen voor specifieke landen (waaronder landen in het Midden-Oosten) als globale exportvergunningen voor de gehele wereld (m.u.v. moeilijke landen).


    Invloedrijk in beantwoording WOB-verzoeken 

    In 2011 was een patroon zichtbaar. De minister van Economische Zaken verschafte de Tweede Kamer nauwelijks informatie over de export van dual-use producten door Nederlandse computer- en beveiligingsbedrijven (waaronder Fox-IT). Fox-IT bepaalde voor een belangrijk deel de inhoud van de beantwoording van Kamervragen.

    Eenzelfde patroon wordt zichtbaar bij de beantwoording van WOB-verzoeken. Buro Jansen & Janssen heeft sinds 2014 WOB-verzoeken bij meerdere overheidsorganen ingediend over de relatie tussen de Nederlandse overheid en Fox-IT. Het bedrijf heeft veel invloed op welke informatie door de overheid openbaar wordt gemaakt.

    Naar aanleiding van de WOB-verzoeken zoekt Ronald Prins (toenmalig directeur van Fox-IT) in 2014 contact met Buro Jansen & Janssen. Hierbij wordt duidelijk dat het bedrijf is geïnformeerd over de ingediende WOB-verzoeken. Het is op zich gebruikelijk dat bedrijven een zienswijze mogen indienen bij de beantwoording van WOB-verzoeken die betrekking hebben op het betreffende bedrijf. Het is echter zeer opmerkelijk dat de overheid Fox-IT informeert over de identiteit van de indiener van het verzoek, omdat de privacy van indieners van WOB-verzoeken door de overheid conform Artikel 8 van de Wet Bescherming Persoonsgegevens beschermd dient te worden.

    Buro Jansen & Janssen heeft naar aanleiding hiervan een WOB-verzoek ingediend om informatie openbaar te maken over de wijze waarop het WOB-verzoek door het Ministerie van Economische Zaken is afgehandeld. Uit de hierop openbaar gemaakte documenten blijkt dat Fox-IT aanzienlijke invloed heeft bij de beantwoording van het WOB-verzoek, en welke informatie door het Ministerie wel en niet openbaar wordt gemaakt.

    Fox-IT schrijft in een zienswijze rond een WOB-procedure bij het Ministerie van Economische Zaken: ‘Fox-IT stelt dat het overleggen van bepaalde documenten of onderdelen daarvan de belangen van De Staat, klanten, partners, relaties en medewerkers Van Fox-IT en Fox-IT zelf onevenredig zal of kan schaden.’

    Vervolgens bekijkt Fox-IT zelf de stukken en schrijft het Ministerie voor welke informatie niet openbaar gemaakt mag worden: ‘In de bijgevoegde documenten zelf is met een markeerstift aangegeven welke onderdelen van de betreffende documenten wat Fox-IT B.V: betreft niet geopenbaard kunnen worden. Deze onderdelen dienen dan ook deugdelijk te worden verwijderd of onherkenbaar te worden gemaakt.’

    In een begeleidende brief bij de door Fox-IT met markeerstift bewerkte documenten concludeert het bedrijf tevreden: ‘Fox-IT heeft overigens ook begrepen dat op de documenten op de genoemde wijze zullen worden aangepast?’


    Fox-IT geeft geen antwoord

    Bij de beantwoording van de Kamervragen en WOB-verzoeken weet Fox-IT haar belangen succesvol te behartigen. Fox-IT heeft veel invloed op welke informatie door de Nederlandse overheid over het bedrijf naar buiten wordt gebracht. Fox-IT wekt hiermee de indruk iets te verbergen te hebben. Deze indruk wekt het bedrijf eigenlijk al jaren.

    In 2011 raakte Fox-IT in opspraak, mede naar aanleiding van enkele publicaties in de media over haar verkoopactiviteiten in het Midden-Oosten. Het bedrijf gaf nooit openheid van zaken. Volgens het bedrijf zou het nooit zaken hebben gedaan met dictatoriale regimes, maar toenmalig directeur Ronald Prins liet aan Vrij Nederland wel weten dat zijn bedrijf aan landen levert ‘waarvan het beleid ons niet helemaal aanspreekt.’ Hij maakte hierbij echter niet duidelijk welke landen hij hiermee bedoelde, en met welke landen het bedrijf wél zaken deed.

    In april 2019 publiceerde Buro Jansen & Janssen het onderzoek Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten. Het onderzoek is gebaseerd op een grote hoeveelheid interne bedrijfsdocumenten en e-mails over de relatie van Fox-IT met haar Duitse partnerbedrijf AGT in de periode 2006-2012. Uit het onderzoek blijkt onder meer dat Fox-IT besloten workshops en trainingen gaf in onder andere Syrië, Egypte en Saoedi-Arabië, waar het haar producten wist te verkopen aan overheidsinstanties, militairen en inlichtingendiensten, en dat Fox-IT in 2008 een training gaf aan de National Defence Council in Egypte.

    Buro Jansen & Janssen vroeg Fox-IT om een reactie. In eerste instantie wekte Fox-IT de indruk de vragen te zullen beantwoorden, maar het bedrijf zag hier toch van af. Het bedrijf antwoordde dat de vragen van Buro Jansen & Janssen ‘tot 13 jaar terug in de tijd gaan.’ Volgens Fox-IT ‘maakt dit het lastig (wellicht onmogelijk) om feitelijk en inhoudelijk te kunnen reageren, daarom onthouden wij ons op dit moment van commentaar.’

    In december 2019 vroeg Buro Jansen & Janssen Fox-IT om een reactie over de exportvergunningen en vroeg of het klopt dat het bedrijf in de periode 2006-2010 nooit een exportvergunning heeft aangevraagd, niet voor FoxReplay en in de periode 2006-2014 ook niet voor RedFox.

    Fox-IT geeft een ontwijkend antwoord. Het bevestigt noch ontkent en schrijft op 31 december 2019: ‘Bij alles wat wij als Fox-IT doen en dus ook bij het exporteren van goederen geldt dat, wanneer wij dat doen, de daarvoor geldende wet- en regelgeving te allen tijde leidend is in ons handelen.’

    Buro Jansen & Janssen heeft Fox-IT ook gevraagd naar de juistheid van de omzetcijfers zoals gegeven door een voormalig manager van het bedrijf. Van 2008-2011 is 10 miljoen verdiend aan de export van producten aan Law Enforcement Agencies, waarvan 4 miljoen in het Midden-Oosten. Het bedrijf beantwoordt deze vraag niet en laat weten: ‘Vanuit Fox-IT doen wij geen uitspraken over behaalde (omzet)cijfers of de herkomst daarvan, anders dan door middel van de reguliere openbare publicaties.’ Dirk Peeters wil ook geen antwoord geven op vragen van Buro Jansen & Janssen en verwijst naar Fox-IT.


    Noodzaak nader onderzoek naar vervolging

    De waarheid over de betrokkenheid van westerse bedrijven bij de opbouw van de surveillancestaat in verschillende landen in het Midden-Oosten komt de afgelopen jaren steeds vaker boven tafel. Sommige bedrijven worden, jaren na dato, alsnog vervolgd voor leveranties aan repressieve regimes, met name Syrië en Libië.

    Ook AGT, de voornaamste partner van Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten, kwam eind 2016 in opspraak na een onderzoek van Privacy International. Uit het onderzoek (Open Season; Building Syria’s Surveillance State) blijkt dat AGT de Syrische overheid heeft geholpen bij de opbouw van een surveillancestaat en betrokken was bij levering van technologie die door de Syrische autoriteiten werd gebruikt voor het opzetten een systeem om internet te monitoren. AGT werkte in Syrië samen met een aantal andere bedrijven die inmiddels vervolgd worden, zoals het Italiaanse bedrijf Area SpA.

    Nader onderzoek naar mogelijk strafbaar handelen van Fox-IT in het Midden-Oosten is op zijn plaats. Fox-IT heeft in 2006-2010 geen enkele exportvergunning aangevraagd en heeft nooit een exportvergunning aangevraagd voor de FoxReplay. Het exporteren van dual-use goederen naar landen buiten de Europese Unie is in beginsel strafbaar.

    Van 2011-2013 ontving Fox-IT drie globale exportvergunningen, waarmee het de DataDiode kon exporteren naar klanten in de hele wereld. De Afdeling Exportcontrole en Strategische Goederen gaf meer prioriteit aan het faciliteren van de export van het bedrijf dan het maken van de beleidsmatige vereiste risicoanalyse om ongewenst eindgebruik te voorkomen. Hiermee was er een reëel risico dat door Fox-IT geëxporteerde producten terecht kwamen bij repressieve regimes in het Midden-Oosten, zeker daar Fox-IT in de regio samenwerkte met partnerbedrijven die haar producten in de regio doorverkochten.


    Buro Jansen & Janssen, februari 2020


    Fox-IT exporteerde zonder exportvergunning naar het Midden-Oosten (samenvatting)

    Fox-IT en het Nederlandse exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen (onderzoek)

    Documenten Fox-IT en het Nederlandse exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen (documenten)

    Fox-IT exporteerde zonder exportvergunning naar het Midden-Oosten (pdf)

    Fox-IT en het Nederlandse exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen(pdf)

    Documenten Fox-IT en het Nederlandse exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen (pdf)

    Het gehele onderzoek Fox-IT en het Nederlandse exportbeleid voor dual-use goederen (pdf)


    Operation Whistle Pig: Inside the secret CBP unit with no rules that investigates Americans

    It was almost 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, and Ali Watkins was walking around the capital following instructions texted by a stranger. One message instructed her to walk through an abandoned parking lot near Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle, and then wait at a laundromat. Then came a final cryptic instruction: She was to enter an unmarked door on Connecticut Avenue leading to a hidden bar.

    The Sheppard, an upscale speakeasy, was so dimly lit it was sometimes hard to see the menu, let alone a stranger at the bar. But amid the red velvet upholstery, Watkins, then a reporter at Politico, almost immediately spotted the man she was supposed to meet: He was wearing a corduroy blazer and jeans and had a distinctive gap between his teeth.

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    How the recent CAIR spy scandal unveils an Islamophobic Informant Industrial Complex in US surveillance (2021)
    The recent discovery of two informants within the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reveals one of the most nefarious dimensions of Islamophobic surveillance in the US: the informant industrial complex, writes Khaled A. Beydoun.
    This past September marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. It also marked two decades of state-sponsored surveillance that pierced deep into the most intimate spaces of Muslim American life. Students and civic organizations, homes and the very electronic devices lodged within them – and more recently – those we carry in our very palms.

    If anything, the past twenty years revealed that surveillance – the enterprise of monitoring people on account of their ethnic or spiritual identity – is the touchstone of structural Islamophobia. The system whereby the state conflates Muslim identity with “terror suspects” and justifies strident measures of policing that violate foundational constitutional safeguards.

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    Informant tells of role in FBI probes (2009)

    It was a skill he learned early, says Monteilh, a 47-year-old Irvine man who, according to court records, provided information to the FBI.

    He learned to gain people’s trust – even while pretending to be someone else. It’s a skill that FBI agents and police officers helped him hone, he says. It’s a skill that he sharpened in his role as an informant in several investigations.

    First recruited by narcotics investigators in late 2003, Monteilh says he gained the trust of law enforcement officials by giving information on bank robberies, murder-for-hire investigations and cases involving white-supremacist gangs.

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    How the FBI Spied on Orange County Muslims And Attempted to Get Away With It (2021)

    In 2006, the FBI ordered an informant to pose as a Muslim convert and spy on the congregants of several large, diverse mosques in Orange County, California. The agent, Craig Monteilh, professed his conversion before hundreds of congregants during the month of Ramadan. Renaming himself “Farouk,” the informant quickly made friends and impressed members of the community with his seeming devotion. The whole time, he was secretly recording conversations and filming inside people’s homes, mosques, and businesses using devices hidden in everyday objects, like the keychain fob of his car keys.

    Among those subjected to FBI spying were Sheik Yassir Fazaga, the imam of the Orange County Islamic Foundation (OCIF), and Ali Uddin Malik and Yasser Abdelrahim, congregants at the Islamic Center of Irvine (ICOI). Together, they sued the FBI in 2011 for unlawfully targeting Muslim community members in violation of their constitutional rights to religious freedom and privacy. The FBI attempted to stop the litigation of the plaintiffs’ religious discrimination claims by arguing that further proceedings could reveal state secrets. After an appeals court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in 2019, the FBI appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear the case on Nov. 8.

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    How an FBI informant destroyed the fabric of an entire community
    As the Supreme Court hears the case of three Muslim Americans suing the FBI for spying on them, the trio detail how the operation tore apart their community

    During the early 2000s, the Muslim community in Southern California was thriving. While the faith group as a whole was dealing with a deluge of Islamophobic attacks post 9/11, the Muslim community in the suburbs of Los Angeles seemed to be expanding every day.

    Soon after the doors of the Islamic Centre of Irvine opened in 2004, it was regularly welcoming around a thousand people for Friday prayers.

    “I don’t use this word sanctuary lightly. It was exactly that, a sanctuary. It was literally a place where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the day to day. You can get away from the media onslaught on Muslims post-9/11 and you can come to a location where you can feel proud and at peace with being Muslim,” Ali Uddin Malik, a member of the community, told Middle East Eye.

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    Post-9/11 surveillance has left a generation of Muslim Americans in a shadow of distrust and fear

    Mohamed Bahe tries not to remember the overwhelming pain he felt the night he learned a volunteer with his organization, Muslims Giving Back, was a paid informant for the New York City Police Department.

    In 2011, Bahe, a Muslim American whose family came to the U.S. from Algeria, had spent months kickstarting his community volunteer group, focused on feeding the homeless and delivering food to families in need. The group worked with different mosques near where he lived in Queens, and its members were becoming familiar faces in a community that had grown wary of outsiders. The heightened scrutiny of law enforcement on Muslim communities had mosque-goers skeptical of people they had not seen before. Mosques, once the center of social life in a community, had become a quiet place where people felt like a stranger could be an informant or an undercover police officer.

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    Police intelligence officer ‘told to doctor reports’ about terrorism informant

    A police intelligence officer fabricated reports about a terrorism informant in a highly classified database after allegedly being instructed to by superiors, The Times has learnt.

    The rogue special branch unit, linked with MI5, that the detective constable worked for was disbanded after he retrospectively altered intelligence reports

    Phil Moran, a counterterrorism agent handler at British Transport Police (BTP), claimed that he was ordered by his superiors to manipulate information on the National Special Branch Intelligence System to deceive the surveillance watchdog. BTP’s director of intelligence, Detective Superintendent Paul Shrubsole, was dismissed at a secret misconduct hearing and another senior officer retired before disciplinary proceedings were brought. Shrubsole denies any wrongdoing.

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    For Two Decades, Americans Told One Lie After Another About What They Were Doing in Afghanistan

    In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, U.S.-backed Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum’s forces murdered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners by jamming them into metal shipping containers and letting them suffocate. At the time, Dostum was on the CIA’s payroll and had been working with U.S. special forces to oust the Taliban from power.

    The Bush administration blocked subsequent efforts to investigate the mass murder, even after the FBI interviewed witnesses among the surviving Afghans who had been moved to the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and after human rights officials publicly identified the mass grave site where Dostum’s forces had disposed of bodies. Later, President Barack Obama promised to investigate, and then took no action.

    Instead, Hollywood stepped in and turned Dostum into a hero. The 2018 movie, “12 Strong,” a jingoistic account of the partnership between U.S. special forces and Dostum in the 2001 invasion, whitewashed Dostum — even as his crimes continued to pile up in the years after the prisoner massacre. At the time of the movie’s January 2018 release, Dostum was in exile, hiding from criminal charges in Afghanistan for having ordered his bodyguards to rape a political opponent, including with an assault rifle. The movie (filmed in New Mexico, not Afghanistan) was based on a book that a New York Times reviewer called “a rousing, uplifting, Toby Keith-singing piece of work.”

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    Warlord Dostum back in the fray as Taliban overwhelm Afghan north

    The scene was a familiar one as warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum jetted into northern Afghanistan this week — a promise of bloodshed and vengeance, and no apology for his vicious past.

    Despite a series of war crimes linked to his forces, the Afghan government is hoping Dostum’s military acumen and seething hatred of the Taliban can help beat back the current insurgent offensive.

    At 67, the greying Uzbek militia leader is not quite in the fighting shape of his youth — he has just returned from medical treatment in Turkey — but his desire to be on the frontline does not appear to have dimmed.

    Loaded on a commercial jet with a contingent of commandos, Dostum headed north Wednesday to join the battle for Mazar-i-Sharif after his nearby Sheberghan stronghold was captured by the Taliban at the weekend.

    Dostum was back in the fight.

    – Political survivor –

    The warlord’s prominence in the latest fight with the Taliban lays bare the long-simmering conundrum facing President Ashraf Ghani’s administration, which has struggled with on-again, off-again relationships with Afghanistan’s ubiquitous strongmen.

    Ghani has repeatedly tried to distance himself from the country’s infamous warlords but only to bring them back into the fold in the time of need.

    Former paratrooper, communist commander, warlord and vice president Dostum has been the very definition of a cunning political survivor forged over four decades of conflict in war-torn Afghanistan.

    Hailing from northern Jawzjan province, a young Dostum enlisted in the Soviet-backed Afghan military in the 1970s and rose dramatically through the ranks — only to abandon the government when it collapsed in the early 1990s.

    From then a familiar pattern emerged.

    Dostum would bend when circumstances demanded, and developed a knack for picking the winning side when it seemed his luck was running out.

    During the brutal civil war of the 1990s, he frequently jumped from one ship to the next — looking for the best deal in the fractious battle for Kabul that raged between several militia factions.

    – Accused of massacring prisoners –

    Over the years, Dostum has survived several ambushes and assassination attempts by both the Taliban and the Islamic State group.

    And after being run out of the country by the Taliban during their rise to power, he returned in dramatic fashion — as a CIA asset, and the tip of the spear of the US-led invasion that toppled his old foes.

    He would later stand accused of massacring hundreds, if not thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war in 2001 — including stuffing insurgents into shipping containers where they suffocated.

    With the Taliban gone and a new power centre developing in Kabul, he again rose through the ranks of the defence forces before eventually becoming vice president in Ghani’s administration.

    But his violent disposition never seemed to wane.

    As the country’s vice president, Dostum was accused of torturing and raping a political rival, eventually leading to another temporary exile.

    But he engineered another return and by 2020 was officially awarded the rank of “marshal” in the Afghan military.

    With the Taliban again rampaging across the country, Dostum is back on the frontline along with a host of former militia leaders from the 1990s that were erstwhile allies and enemies.

    “The Taliban never learn from the past,” Dostum told reporters after landing in Mazar, vowing to kill the jihadists.

    “The Taliban have come to the north several times but they were always trapped. It is not easy for them to get out.”

    Find this story at 12 August 2021
    The US Used Afghan Women to Justify Its War. Now, It’s Leaving Them Behind. (2021)

    “We must be accountable to the crisis we helped create.”

    Four days after Taliban-controlled Kabul fell to the United States and its military allies in 2001, First Lady Laura Bush took over the mic for her husband’s customary weekly radio address. “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women,” Bush declared. “Because of our recent military gains, in much of Afghanistan women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment.”Rhetoric around women’s rights in Afghanistan, and portrayals of US military forces as saviors of Afghan women, have been used to justify the US war there from the beginning. Nine days after US bombs started dropping, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) donned a burqa on the House floor to declare the offensive a “just war, which we have no choice but to wage” while listing the Taliban’s many restrictions on women’s lives—no work, no school, no medical care from male doctors—and their devastating economic and health consequences. The same day as Bush’s address, the State Department published a report that concluded: “Today, with Kabul and other Afghan cities liberated from the Taliban, women are returning to their rightful place in Afghan society—the place they and their families choose to have.” The following week, the New York Times editorial board hopped on the train, praising the liberation of Afghan women as a “collateral benefit” of the war, and calling for women’s participation in civic life and government.

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    CIA-backed Afghan troops ‘committed war crimes’: report (2019)

    Afghan strike forces backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have committed abuses “amounting to war crimes”, according to a new report.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges the troops “committed summary executions and other grave abuses without accountability”.

    These include extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and attacks on healthcare facilities.

    Afghanistan’s government told the BBC the current situation was unacceptable.

    Disputing the report, the CIA said its covert operations were carried out in “accordance with law and under a robust system of oversight”.

    Both the UN and the New York Times have previously highlighted allegations of abuses by Afghan strike teams.

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    This Is What Winning Looks Like (2014)
    “This Is What Winning Looks Like” is a disturbing feature documentary about the ineptitude, drug abuse, sexual misconduct, and corruption of the Afghan security forces, as well as the reduced role of US Marines due to the troop withdrawal.

    In February 2013, on his last day at the helm of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen described what he thought the war’s legacy will be: ”Afghan forces defending Afghan people and enabling the government of this country to serve its citizens. This is victory, this is what winning looks like, and we should not shrink from using these words.”

    However, the picture formed by VICE News correspondent Ben Anderson as he traveled to Afghanistan in December 2012 was anything but, finding that our legacy will likely be the exact opposite of what Allen posited—not a stable Afghanistan, but one at war with itself yet again.

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    The A-Team Killings (2013)

    Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?

    In the fall of 2012, a team of American Special Forces arrived in Nerkh, a district of Wardak province, Afghanistan, which lies just west of Kabul and straddles a vital highway. The members installed themselves in the spacious quarters of Combat Outpost Nerkh, which overlooked the farming valley and had been vacated by more than 100 soldiers belonging to the regular infantry. They were U.S. Army Green Berets, trained to wage unconventional warfare, and their arrival was typical of what was happening all over Afghanistan; the big Army units, installed during the surge, were leaving, and in their place came small groups of quiet, bearded Americans, the elite operators who would stay behind to hunt the enemy and stiffen the resolve of government forces long after America’s 13-year war in Afghanistan officially comes to an end.

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    Did U.S. stop inquiry into Afghan massacre? (2009)

    After a U.S.-backed warlord killed hundreds of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan, the Bush administration quashed inquiries, say government officials and human rights advocates.

    After a mass killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war by the forces of an American-backed warlord during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Bush administration officials repeatedly discouraged efforts to investigate the episode, according to government officials and human rights organizations.

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    Taliban should be overthrown by the uprising of Afghan nation (RAWA 2001)

    Again, due to the treason of fundamentalist hangmen, our people have been caught in the claws of the monster of a vast war and destruction.

    America, by forming an international coalition against Osama and his Taliban-collaborators and in retaliation for the 11th September terrorist attacks, has launched a vast aggression on our country.

    Despite the claim of the US that only military and terrorist bases of the Taliban and Al Qieda will be struck and that its actions would be accurately targeted and proportionate, we have witnessed for the past seven days leaves no doubt that this invasion will shed the blood of numerous women, men, children, young and old of our country.

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    The people of Afghanistan have nothing to do with Osama and his accomplices (RAWA 2001)

    On September 11, 2001 the world was stunned with the horrific terrorist attacks on the United States. RAWA stands with the rest of the world in expressing our sorrow and condemnation for this barbaric act of violence and terror. RAWA had already warned that the United States should not support the most treacherous, most criminal, most anti-democracy and anti-women Islamic fundamentalist parties because after both the Jehadi and the Taliban have committed every possible type of heinous crimes against our people, they would feel no shame in committing such crimes against the American people whom they consider “infidel”. In order to gain and maintain their power, these barbaric criminals are ready to turn easily to any criminal force.

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    Surveillance made in France

    In Egypt, arms giant Dassault, a subsidiary of Thales, and the company Nexa Technologies sold a mass surveillance system to the dictatorship of Field Marshal Sisi. With the blessing of the French state.

    “Happy birthday” greetings pour in on Ahmed Alaa’s phone. On October 1, 2017, sitting in the back of a taxi in the small town of Damietta, Egypt, the student, who has just turned 22, sends out emojis and text messages to his friends. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window: “Identity card!” Plainclothes officers surround the vehicle, walkie-talkies in hand, pull him out roughly and take him away in their van. Destination unknown. “For a second I thought it was a prank”, he tells Disclose. “I didn’t think I could ever be kidnapped like that, in the middle of the street”. He was imprisoned, without any form of trial.At the time, the regime accused him of posting a photo on the Internet of himself under a rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBT community, at an underground rock concert in Cairo on 22 September. A photo that went viral on the web in Egypt led to the young man being accused by the regime of “immorality” and belonging to an “illegal group”. After 80 days in detention, he was released without further explanation, physically and psychologically broken. He packed his bags and fled the country for Toronto, Canada, where Disclose met him to talk at length.
    Sitting in the Canadian living room of friends who are refugees like him, he recalls the events. The official media broadcasting his face over and over again on TV, the threats on social networks, and then the few days in hiding in a small town far from Cairo, where he thought he was safe. “When the police arrested me, I soon realised that my phone had been tapped and my social network activity monitored. No one can escape them… ”

    65,000 opponents in prison

    Political opponents, journalists, NGO leaders, homosexuals, strikers… For the past five years, all those who do not think or live according to the precepts of the military regime have risked imprisonment – nearly 65,000 opponents are reportedly languishing in the regime’s jails, while 3,000 others have “disappeared” after being arrested, according to the US State Department. An unprecedented repression of Egyptian civil society facilitated by a massive cyber-surveillance system installed by three French companies, with the tacit agreement of the authorities.

    The first, called Nexa Technologies, is run by the founders of Amesys, a company accused of supplying surveillance equipment to the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya. The second, Ercom-Suneris – a subsidiary of Thales since 2019 – is known to be responsible for the security of one of Emmanuel Macron’s mobile phones. The third is none other than Dassault Systèmes, the technology subsidiary of the French arms industry heavyweight and manufacturer of the Rafale aircraft. When contacted, Ercom-Suneris and Dassault Systèmes did not answer our questions.

    “We always deploy our solutions in full transparency and in contact with the French authorities and intelligence services “

    Management of Nexa Technologies

    According to our investigation, in partnership with Télérama magazine, these three technology companies came together in 2014 around a project to monitor the population outside normal boundaries. An Egyptian equivalent of the NSA [1], dictatorship style: Nexa Technologies was in charge of installing an Internet surveillance software called “Cerebro” and Ercom-Suneris a phone tapping and geolocation device called “Cortex vortex” .

    The National Security Agency, the US intelligence service, has organised massive surveillance of global telecommunications, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    The last piece of this massive spying construct was an ultra-powerful search engine manufactured by Dassault Système. According to our information, Exalead, as it is known, made it possible to link various databases together on behalf of the MID, the regime’s opaque military intelligence service.
    To consolidate the power he acquired by force in July 2013, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi could count on two important allies. On the one hand, the French state, one of his main Western partners, which provided diplomatic, military and commercial support. And the United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, which, according to our information, would put €150 million on the table in 2013 to offer Field Marshal Sisi the missing element for his repressive arsenal: digital espionage. The Gulf State involved a subsidiary of Etimad [2], the Emirati leader in cyber defence. It was this partner that would offer cyber-surveillance “made in France” the opportunity of accessing the heart of power, the Egyptian Ministry of Defence. “The order from the Egyptian government came to us through an Emirati company that contacted us and told us about the requirements”, the management of Nexa Technologies, the first to get involved, confirmed in writing.
    The French SME had a major advantage: since 2012 it had had a commercial arm based in the Emirates, Advanced Middle East Systems. “This creation was done with the greatest transparency of information with the French services”, Nexa Technologies still asserts. On 24 March 2014, its directors, Stéphane Salies and Olivier Bohbot, won an €11.4 million contract to install its flagship software, Cerebro, in Cairo. According to a confidential document  obtained by Disclose, Cerebro is said to be able to “analyse data to understand the relationships and behaviour of suspects, going back in time to find relevant information in billions of recorded conversations”. The contract was called “Toblerone”, after the Swiss chocolate in the shape of a pyramid.
    In the wake of this, Stéphane Salies, Nexa’s CEO, advised the Emiratis to bring in Ercom-Suneris. Jackpot. In the summer of 2014, Pierre-Mayeul Badaire, Ercom’s CEO, signed a contract for nearly €15 million to spy on phones up and down the Nile. The Egyptian military was primarily interested in one feature: geolocating their targets in real time using their Cortex Vortex software. “It’s like a spy movie”, explains a former Ercom engineer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “You can geolocate a person by triangulating the position of the base stations which their phone is connected to, even without them making any calls”. An even more intrusive device than Nexa’s. What is the view of Thales, which bought Ercom-Suneris in 2019 and which is 25.6% held by the French state? When contacted, the French group did not wish to “answer the questionnaire” sent by Disclose.
    According to our information, Dassault Systèmes was involved in the project at the same time as its two counterparts. As the owner of Exalead, an ultra-powerful search engine, the group was, it seems, the ideal partner to centralise the millions of pieces of information collected by the French SMEs and the regime, which made the digital database of Egyptian identity cards and passports available to it. According to our information, employees of the group travelled to Cairo five times between October 2015 and the end of 2016 to supervise the installation of Exalead. Egyptian intelligence officers were also trained in Paris.To ensure that the system would do its job perfectly, the dictatorship did not skimp on the equipment: brand new data centres, latest generation Dell computers, “megaservers” from the American company DDN…In Alexandria, the military also had electronic components [3] installed on the submarine cables linking the country to the Internet network to better monitor it. As for the command centre of this future “Egyptian NSA”, it was located in Cairo, on the Almaza military base, 10 km from the presidential palace.
    STATE-APPROVED DEPLOYMENTIn order to have a free hand in Egypt, French cyber surveillance experts had to seek the approval of the French state and its dual-use goods control unit (SBDU). In other words, control of civilian technologies that could be misused for military or repressive purposes. Such as surveillance software.In July 2014, the SBDU, under the authority of Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of the Economy, was applied to by Nexa Technologies as part of the “Toblerone” contract. According to the file submitted to the SBDU and obtained by Disclose, the company mentioned a “provision of services [to Egypt] related to the implementation of a legal IP interception system in the context of the fight against terrorism and crime”. The contract included 550 days of installation and 200 hours of training.Officially, Advanced Middle East Systems, Nexa’s UAE subsidiary, was selling the system. The parent company would only be covering its deployment. The SBDU was clearly reassured and considered that the case did not require further investigation. On 10 October 2014, it stamped the application “not subject” in the bottom right-hand corner. Apparently, the Ministry of the Economy saw no problem in exporting Cerebro software to one of the most repressive countries in the world. When contacted by Disclose, the Ministry indicated that it did not wish to communicate on this subject.In the autumn of 2014, it was Ercom-Suneris’ turn to ask for the State’s agreement to export its wiretapping system: it got a “favourable” stamp.

    If the French state had had the slightest doubt about the supply of [Cerebro] to the Egyptian state, it would have refused export of the technology and opposed the sale,” Nexa Technologies’ management explains today. At the time of writing, only Nexa has agreed to answer the questions raised by our survey. The reason for this unprecedented statement is to be found in the crimes against humanity unit of the Paris public prosecutor’s office: since 2017, following our partner’s revelations, the justice system has opened a judicial investigation against Nexa and its management for “complicity in acts of torture and enforced disappearance” in Libya and Egypt. According to our information, on 12 October 2021, Nexa Technologie was indicted for “complicity in torture and enforced disappearance in Egypt between 2014 and 2021”. On 17 June, Stéphane Salies and Olivier Bohbot were indicted. To date, Ercom-Suneris and Dassault Systèmes have decided to opt for a strategy of keeping silent.

    Jean-Pierre Canet, Mathias Destal, Ariane Lavrilleux, Geoffrey Livolsi
    November 23, 2021
    Find this story at 23 November 2021
    France sold Sisi surveillance systems that led to the arrest and torture of opponents

    The site continued to publish new secrets in what it called “Egypt Papers” (Mohamed Al-Shahed/AFP)

    The Egyptian authorities blocked the investigative website, Disclose, hours after it published an investigation into France’s involvement in intelligence assistance to Egypt, which led to the targeting of civilians on the Libyan border.

    On Wednesday, the website continued to publish new secrets in what it called “Egypt Papers”, and revealed in a new report that the giant French arms company “Dassault”, affiliated with Thales and Nexa Technologies, sold “a mass surveillance system to the dictatorship of Field Marshal Sisi, with the blessing of the French state.” site says.

    The site interviewed the Egyptian youth Ahmed Alaa, who was imprisoned without any form of trial, in 2017, and the regime accused him of posting a picture of him online under the rainbow flag, the symbol of the “gay community”, at an underground rock concert in Cairo on the 22nd. September of that year.

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    French spyware bosses indicted for their role in the torture of dissidents

    An investigation into the sale of surveillance technologies to Libya and Egypt has led to charges against leaders at one company.

    Senior executives at a French spyware firm have been indicted for the company’s sale of surveillance software to authoritarian regimes in Libya and Egypt that resulted in the torture and disappearance of dissidents.

    While high-tech surveillance is a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide, it is rare for companies or individuals to face legal consequences for selling such technologies—even to notorious dictatorships or other dangerous regimes. But charges in the Paris Judicial Court against leaders at Amesys, a surveillance company that later changed its name to Nexa Technology, claim that the sales to Libya and Egypt over the last decade led to the crushing of opposition, torture of dissidents, and other human rights abuses.

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    French executives face torture charges for selling spy gear to Libya, Egypt

    Current and former executives at two French technology companies have been charged with complicity in torture for selling surveillance equipment to Libya and Egypt that was used to track down opponents, who were then detained and tortured.

    Investigating magistrates in the war crimes unit of the Paris tribunal have charged the former chief of Amesys, Philippe Vannier, and three current and former executives of Nexa Technologies, with “complicity in acts of torture”, according to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

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    This Week in Internet Censorship: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, and a Criminal Suit Against Amesys (2011)

    EFF has grave concerns about the health of Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, who has now been on hunger strike for 57 days.  Sanad’s retrial was scheduled for October 13, but was postponed.  Sanad, who was sentenced in April by a military court to three years in prison on charges of insulting the military on his blog, has stated that he will boycott any retrial.

    We firmly support the statement made by Reporters Without Borders Wednesday, which reads:

    “We condemn this persistence in persecuting Sanad and call for his immediate release. This military court should dismiss the charges against him. The repeated postponement of the hearings and the refusal to release him on bail are being used to prolong his detention. The original trial was unfair and violated the principles of justice. After its verdict was rightly quashed, the retrial must not be used to repeat the first trial.”

    EFF reiterates our call for Sanad’s immediate release.

    Human Rights Organizations File Criminal Complaint Against French Company Amesys

    In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that surveillance technology produced by French company Amesys (a subsidiary of Bull) was found to have been used by the Libyan government to censor and spy on its citizens.  As we’ve previously stated, Amesys is one of several Western technology companies that exports censorship and surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes.  In this case, Amesys explicitly entered into an agreement with the Libyan government to make available technology for the express purpose of intercepting communication.

    On Wednesday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with its French member Ligue des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (LDH), filed a criminal complaint, as well as an application to join the proceedings as a civil party against persons unknown before the Court of Paris concerning the responsibility of Amesys in relation to acts of torture perpetrated in Libya.

    EFF applauds FIDH and LDH.  We hope that a positive outcome of this suit will have a broad global impact on the issue of exporting surveillance and censorship technologies to authoritiarian regimes.

    Thai Government Acknowledges Lèse Majesté Law Misused

    Amidst two ongoing high-profile trials, the Thai government admitted that its strict lèse majesté laws against insulting the royal family may have been “misused,” reports the AFP.  The admission came in response to a call from Frank La Rue, United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression, to reform the laws.

    Though the Thai Foreign Ministry stated that the laws are not meant to stifle free expression, it added that “there have been cases where the law has been enforced in such a way that may not be in line with its purpose of protecting the dignity of the monarchy and may in some cases inadvertently affect people’s freedom of expression.”

    On Monday, US citizen Joe Wichai Commart Gordon pleaded guilty on charges of insulting the monarchy.  Gordon’s alleged crime?  Translating a banned, unauthorized biography of the Thai monarch and publishing it online while living in the US.  Meanwhile, the trial of Prachatai editor Jiew, which resumed in September, has been suspended until February.

    Violations of Thailand’s lèse majesté laws can result in prison sentences of up to fifteen years.  EFF commends Rapporteur LaRue for his efforts and echoes his call on the Thai government to reform its laws to ensure the rights of Thai citizens to free expression.

    Sri Lanka Blocks Anti-Government News Site

    News of blocked sites in Sri Lanka has emerged this week.  In Sri Lanka, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports, the anti-government site Lanka eNews has been unavailable since Tuesday.  The site has been run from outside the country since 2010, when founder and editor Sandaruwan Senadheera went into exile in England after repeatedly receiving death threats.  Earlier this year, the newspaper’s Colombo headquarters even suffered an arson attack.  Given these incidents, it’s no surprise that Sri Lanka has had a dismal record when it comes to protecting its journalists and the right to free expression.

    EFF condemns the blocking of Lanka eNews and calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to respect the right of free expression and the right to information.

    October 19, 2011
    Surveillance Technology at the Fair: Proliferation of Cyber Capabilities in International Arms Markets

    The Atlantic Council: “State cyber capabilities are increasingly abiding by the “pay-to-play” model—both US/NATO allies and adversaries can purchase interception and intrusion technologies from private firms for intelligence and surveillance purposes. NSO Group has repeatedly made headlines in 2021 for targeting government entities in cyberspace, but there are many more companies selling similar products that are just as detrimental. These vendors are increasingly looking to foreign governments to hawk their wares, and policymakers have yet to sufficiently recognize or respond to this emerging problem. Any cyber capabilities sold to foreign governments carry a risk: these capabilities could be used against individuals and organizations in allied countries, or even in one’s home country.  Because much of this industry operates in the shadows, research into the industry in aggregate is rare.


    This paper analyzes active providers of interception/intrusion capabilities within the international surveillance market, cataloguing firms that have attended both ISSWorld (i.e., the Wiretapper’s Ball) and international arms fairs over the last twenty years.

    This dataset mostly focuses on Western firms and includes little on Chinese firms, due to historical under-attendance of Chinese firms at ISSWorld. However, the overarching nature of this work will help policymakers better understand the market at large, as well as the primary arms fairs at which these players operate. This paper identifies companies explicitly marketing interception/intrusion technology at arms fairs, and answers a series of questions, including: what companies are marketing interception/intrusion capabilities outside their headquartered region; which arms fairs and countries host a majority of these firms; and what companies market interception/intrusion capabilities to US and NATO adversaries?

    The resulting dataset shows that there are multiple firms headquartered in Europe and the Middle East that the authors assess, with high confidence, are marketing cyber interception/intrusion capabilities to US/NATO adversaries.

    They assume that companies offering interception/intrusion capabilities pose the greatest risk, both by bolstering oppressive regimes and by the proliferation of strategic capabilities. Many such firms congregate at Milipol France, Security & Policing UK, and other arms fairs in the UK, Germany, Singapore, Israel, and Qatar.

    The authors found that 75 percent of companies likely selling interception/intrusion technologies have marketed these capabilities to governments outside their home continentFive irresponsible proliferators—BTT, Cellebrite, Micro Systemation AB, Verint, and Vastech—have marketed their capabilities to US/NATO adversaries in the last ten years.

    This paper categorizes these companies as potentially irresponsible proliferators because of their willingness to market outside their continents to nonallied governments of the United States and NATO—specifically, Russia and China. By marketing to these parties, these firms signal that they are willing to accept or ignore the risk that their products will bolster the capabilities of client governments that might wish to threaten US/NATO national security or harm marginalized populations. This is especially the case when the client government is a direct US or NATO adversary…”


    Find this story on 11 November 2021

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    Surveillance Technology at the Fair: Proliferation of Cyber Capabilities in International Arms Markets

    State cyber capabilities are increasingly abiding by the “pay-to-play” model—both US/NATO allies and adversaries can purchase interception and intrusion technologies from private firms for intelligence and surveillance purposes. NSO Group has repeatedly made headlines in 2021 for targeting government entities in cyberspace, but there are many more companies selling similar products that are just as detrimental. These vendors are increasingly looking to foreign governments to hawk their wares, and policymakers have yet to sufficiently recognize or respond to this emerging problem. Any cyber capabilities sold to foreign governments carry a risk: these capabilities could be used against individuals and organizations in allied countries, or even in one’s home country.

    lees meer

    Swedish surveillance company criticized in US report

    The controversial Swedish forensic technology company MSAB receives harsh criticism in a new research report published by the American think tank Atlantic Council. The reason is that the company has marketed its cutting-edge products in the authoritarian countries of China and Russia. – It is surprising that they market themselves so aggressively in Russia, says one of the report’s authors, Lars Gjesvik, a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Policy Nupi.

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    Report: Big tech spends more on lobbying than pharma, finance and chemicals firms combined

    Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and other tech firms are spending more than €97m on lobbying the EU each year, a new report has revealed.

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    The lobby network: Big Tech’s web of influence in the EU

    As Big Tech’s market power grew, so did its political clout. Now, as the EU tries to rein in the most problematic aspects of Big Tech – from disinformation, targeted advertising to unfair competition practices – the digital giants are lobbying hard to shape new regulations.

    In ‘The Lobby Network’, Corporate Europe Observatory and Lobbycontrol offer an overview of the tech industry’s EU lobbying firepower. For the first time, we map the ‘universe’ of actors lobbying the EU’s digital economy, from Silicon Valley giants to Shenzhen’s contenders; from firms created online to those making the infrastructure that keeps the internet running; tech giants and newcomers.

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