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  • EU member states exported weapons to Russia after the 2014 embargo (2022)

    Find this story at 17 March 2022

    Staggering data shows NATO aided Putin by supplying arms being used against Ukraine (2022)
    STAGGERING unearthed data has revealed several NATO countries – including the UK – have supplied weapons and military equipment to Russia worth hundreds of millions of pounds, some of which are likely to be used against Ukraine today.

    NATO military alliance members including the UK, France and Germany, are being accused of supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by continuing to supply weapons to the Russian military up until at least 2020, despite an embargo following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. According to data unearthed from the Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), a third of the European Union’s member states have exported weapons to Russia in recent years.

    The COARM data, first analysed by Investigate Europe, reveals a staggering €346million (£290million) worth of military equipment – including aircraft, vehicles, missiles, rockets, torpedos and bombs – was exported to Russia from at least 10 EU countries between 2015 and 2020.

    The report reveals several “loopholes” in an embargo against issuing weapons to Moscow after the 2014 Crimea annexation which were exploited by European countries.

    Under the terms of the embargo, existing contracts could be fulfilled provided that they had been agreed to before 2014 – allowing nations to provide Russia’s military with weapons until 2020.

    France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, Slovakia and Spain are all implicated in the report, with France singled out as the top exporter of arms to Russia.

    Additionally, data from the UK Government’s Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) shows the UK may also have taken advantage of this loophole.

    So what has the UK supplied?

    According to the ECJU data – which was compiled by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) group – the UK granted 30 licences to export £3.7million worth of goods classes “for military purpose” to Russia between the 2014 embargo and September 2018.

    Most of the licences were given in 2014, with additional licences in 2015 and 2016 with the last being in 2018 – according to the data which runs to the end of September 2021.

    These included £1.4million to fund military aircraft, helicopter and drone components, as well as a further £1.2million worth of ammunition.

    A total of £780,000 was approved for electronic equipment and £312,000 on small arms, while another £26,000 was paid out for equipment and test models and £2,900 on imaging equipment.

    Note these figures do not necessarily reflect the actual value of good exported – the ECJU only collects data on the value of goods that companies were given permission to export, regardless of whether these contracts are eventually fulfilled.

    Additionally, companies can be awarded ‘dual use’ licences for both military and non-military purposes by the Government, which weren’t halted under the 2014 embargo.

    Including dual-purpose licences, a total of 1,129 licences have been granted to Russia since the annexing of Crimea, taking the total combined value to £1.2billion.

    On February 24, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would suspend dual-purpose licences to Russia as part of a package of sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

    A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK has not granted any licences to Russia that would be inconsistent with the sanctions measures imposed in July 2014.

    “Following the illegal invasion of Ukraine, we suspended approval of new export licences for dual-use items to Russia with immediate effect.

    “The UK takes its export control responsibilities extremely seriously. All licences not consistent with sanctions measures will be revoked and military exports to Russia remain prohibited.”


    What about the rest of the EU?

    According to the COARM data, France has emerged as the top exporter to Russia since 2014, with 44 percent of European arms to Russia originating there.

    In total, the country issued more than 70 licences worth €152million (£128million) from 2014.

    According to the Investigate Europe report on the figures, France has given authorisation to export items in the category of “bombs, rockets, torpedoes, missiles, explosive charges” alongside “imaging equipment, aircraft with their components and ‘lighter-than-air vehicles’”.

    Furthermore, a report into the statistics by the independent Franch outlet Disclose showed that thermal imaging cameras and infrared sensors were purchased from  French shareholder companies Safran and Thales.

    This equipment is reported to adorn Russian tanks and fighter jets operating on the Ukrainian frontline in today’s brutal war.

    Like the UK, the data shows most French licences were granted directly after the annexation of Crimea and have slowly declined since 2015 under the embargo.

    France’s Ministry of the Armed Forces told Investigate Europe the country is committed “to apply very strictly” to the 2014 embargo and that weapons given to Russia since were “a residual flow, resulting from past contracts… and which has gradually died out”.

    Germany also tops the list, with the figures showing the nation exported 35 percent of all EU arms to Russia, totalling €121.8million (£102.25million) worth of equipment.

    This included icebreaker vessels, rifles and “special protection” vehicles.

    German exports were largely granted under ‘dual use’ licences – as such, the exports are not deemed to be in breach of the 2014 sanctions, Investigate Europe said.

    In third place, the COARM figures show Italy has sold weapons to Russia totalling €22.5million (£18.8million) with the first contract signed in 2015 authorising up to €25million (£20million) worth of land vehicles parts.

    Such vehicles have been seen on the Ukrainian front line by the Italian TV channel La7.

    Elsewhere in the data, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, Slovakia and Spain are also implied in arms sales to Russia.

    Germany exported military equipment to Russia despite embargo: Report (2022)

    $134 million worth of military equipment shipped between 2014 and 2020, despite EU sanctions on Russia, according to local media

    Germany shipped €122 million ($134 million) worth of military equipment to Russia despite the EU arms embargo in effect since 2014, local media has reported. Nine other EU member states also exported military goods during that time, said the report.

    German arms exports to Russia between 2014 and 2020 included special protection vehicles and icebreaker vessels but also lethal weapons such as rifles, according to a report by Investigate Europe.

    Economy Ministry spokesperson Annike Einhorn told reporters on Friday that since the EU’s arms embargo in 2014, Germany has not granted any new licenses for exports of military equipment to Russia.

    But she was unable to account for the deliveries that continued until 2020.

    According to the report, between 2014 and 2020 at least 10 EU member states exported a total of €346 million worth of arms to Russia.

    France was the top exporter of arms to Russia, with €152 million worth of military equipment, followed by Germany (€122 million) and Italy (€22 million).

    Following Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, the EU decided to ban export or transfer of any arms and related material to Russia.

    Ayhan Simsek   |18.03.2022


    Find this story at 18 March 2022

    France, Germany and Italy sold hundreds of millions of pounds worth of arms and military kit to Russia for years despite embargo (2022)

    France, Germany and Italy sold hundreds of millions worth of arms to Russia 

    They sold military kit to the Kremlin for years despite an EU embargo banning it

    They were three of at least 10 countries to use a loophole to get past the ban 

    France alone sold €152million out of a total €350million (£293million) exported

    France, Germany and Italy used a loophole in a ban of exporting arms to Russia to send the Kremlin €296million worth of military equipment that is now being used against Ukraine.

    They were just three of at least 10 EU member states to export almost €350million (£293million) in equipment that can include missiles, rockets, ships and bombs.

    It should have been impossible to do so owing to an EU embargo that banned selling arms to Russia following the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

    A T-72B3  is one of the tanks French military kit could be equipped on. Pictured: A T-72B3 during a military drill in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 14, 2022, ten days before the war in Ukraine started

    France, Germany and Italy used a loophole in a ban of exporting arms to Russia to send the Kremlin €296million worth of military equipment that is now being used against Ukraine. They were just three of at least 10 EU member states to export almost €350million (£293million) in equipment that can include missiles, rockets, ships and bombs

    The EU banned ’the direct or indirect sale, supply, transfer or export of arms and related material of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts therefore, to Russia’ eight years ago.

    However, countries were able to sell hundreds of millions of pounds worth of kit to Russia despite the ban using a backdoor technicality that permitted contacts signed before August 1, 2014, or additional contracts that would help conclude those deals.

    France was responsible for the majority of exports, raking in €152 million in sales, as revealed by Disclose.

    Ukraine claimed to have shot down a Russian Su-30SM jet, which could have had French infrared kit on board, over the outskirts of Kyiv, with wreckage falling on a house and leaving several people injured

    A Russian helicopter is shot down somewhere over Kyiv (left), while the wreckage of what appears to be a jet falls from the skies near the capital (right). European detecting systems may have been attached to Russian helicopters

    That amounts to 44 per cent of European arms exported to Russia, as reported by Investigate Europe.

    From 2015 French authorities allowed the sale of weapons that fell into the category of bombs, rockets, torpedoes, missiles and explosive charges to Russia.

    Other exports included thermal imaging cameras for more than 1,000 Russian tanks, including T-80BVMs and T-72B3s, and infrared spotters for attack jets and helicopters.

    Even in 2014 France was still allowing the sale of chemical and biological weapons to Moscow.

    Germany came in at a close second, exporting 35 per cent of all EU arms to Putin with €121.8million sold.

    Italy sold the third most, exporting €22.5million from 2015 to 2020. They also allegedly sold €21.9million in arms and ammunition to Russian civilians and paramilitary groups between January and November 2021.

    Britain also sold £1.7million worth of army to Russia after the EU ban was imposed.

    President Zelensky of Ukraine has maintained calls for more Western support, weapons as well as a no-fly zone as Putin’s invasion today entered its fourth week.

    Vladimir Putin today held a huge rally to prop-up support for his invasion of Ukraine in front of thousands of ‘Z’ flag-waving Russians crammed into Moscow’s Luzhniki World Cup stadium.

    The pro-war event saw the Russian talk about the success of his ‘special operation’ in Ukraine.

    Vladimir Putin today held a huge rally to prop-up support for his invasion of Ukraine in front of thousands of ‘Z’ flag-waving Russians crammed into Moscow’s Luzhniki World Cup stadium

    Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

    As his bombs continued to fall just hundreds of miles away in Ukraine, Putin boasted of Russia and Crimea’s ‘shared destiny’, and praised the peninsula’s people for voting in a referendum to be part of Russia – which was held while it was still occupied by Russian troops.

    ‘We are united by the same destiny,’ he said of the people of Russia and Crimea. ‘This is how the people thought and that’s what they were guided by when they had the referendum in Sevastopol.

    ‘They want to share their historical destiny with their motherland Russia – let us congratulate them on this occasion, it is their occasion. Congratulations,’ he said to huge cheers.

    Putin repeated false claims about neo-Nazis in Ukraine, a line he has used repeatedly in an attempt to justify his invasion – despite Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky being Jewish, and far-right parties enjoying almost no political support in the country.


    Find this story at 18 March 2022

    France continued to deliver Russia weapons after 2014 embargo

    France continued to issue arms export licences to Russia after the 2014 embargo, investigative website Disclose has revealed.

    According to leaked documents, French companies delivered arms to Russia after the EU imposed sanctions, including an arms embargo, against Russia in 2014. France has since issued more than 70 licences to export military equipment to companies worth €152 million.

    Contacted by EURACTIV France, the Armed Forces ministry confirmed that France “allowed “the execution of certain contracts concluded before 2014”, something the EU embargo against Russia allowed.

    According to the ministry, other European countries did the same. Additional export licences the ministry considered problematic like those for Mistral fighter jets had not been fulfilled.

    But equipment delivered after 2014 would have enabled Russia’s army and air force to modernise its vehicles, notably with cameras and navigation systems for aircraft, Disclose reported. According to the ministry, this is a “residual flow from past contracts […] that has gradually died out” and is mentioned in annual reports to parliament.

    The latest report to parliament on arms deliveries from 2021 shows a considerable decrease since 2016 in the number of delivery licences granted by France, both in terms of number and value of equipment delivered, with 2020 seeing the lowest figure of around €300,000.

    Since 2018, Russia has not placed any more arms orders despite being France’s largest buyer from 2011, the report states.


     15 Mar 2022


    Find this story at 15 March 2022

    A Third of EU Member States Exported Weapons to Russia (2022)

    A third of European Union (EU) member states exported weapons to Russia after the 2014 embargo banning them, according to data from the working group, which records all military exports from the 27, analyzed by Investigate Europe.

    The data, released today in the newspaper Public, indicate that 10 EU countries exported weapons to Russia after the July 2014 embargo, which prohibits “the direct or indirect sale, supply, transfer or export of weapons and related material”. The 2014 embargo followed the annexation of Crimea and the proclamation of the breakaway republics of Donbass six months earlier.Every year, the 27 member states submit their data to the Council of the EU Working Group on Conventional Arms Exports, COARM.

    Data analyzed by the Investigate Europe consortium indicates that between 2015 and 2021 at least 10 member states exported weapons to Russia worth a total of 346 million euros.

    According to the consortium’s investigation, some European Union countries used a legal loophole in regulations to continue their trade.

    The embargo “does not apply to contracts and agreements, nor to ongoing negotiations carried out before August 1, 2014, nor to the supply of spare parts and services necessary for the maintenance and security of existing capacities,” according to the consortium.

    COARM explained in a response sent to Investigate Europe that “the EU arms embargo contains the following exemption: contracts concluded before 1 August 2014 or accessory contracts for the performance of such contracts. should be covered by this exemption. Member States are responsible for ensuring compliance with the arms embargo and the EU Common Position”.According to COARM, member states are not arming Russia.

    Investigate Europe’s analysis puts France far ahead of EU partners, with 44% of sales to Russia.

    Since 2015, France has issued export licenses for “bombs, rockets, torpedoes, missiles, explosive charges”, but also “imaging equipment, planes with their components and drones”.

    According to the survey, in 2014 French arms dealers authorized the shipment to Russia of “toxic chemical or biological agents, riot control agents and radioactive substances”.

    After France comes Germany, which, according to the consortium, exported 121.8 million euros to Russia, representing 35% of total exports.Behind France and Germany are also Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, Slovakia and Spain, but with lower sales. Portugal is not part of this group.

    Find this story at 17 March 2022
    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