The US has uncovered a criminal network smuggling chips for the Russian military industry

US authorities have indicted five Russians who supplied electronic components to the Russian military industry.

Some of the details were found on the battlefield in Ukraine, reports BGNES. Also, three Latvians and one Ukrainian are accused of trying to send to Russia a high-precision industrial machine made in the United States. The Justice Department believes it could be used by the military industry or in a nuclear weapons program. According to the ministry, the schemes involved shell companies in multiple countries, including Dubai and Germany. The goal was to avoid all sanctions against Russia.

The first scheme was to buy sensitive American technology. These include high-tech semiconductors and microprocessors, which are needed to make fighter jets, rocket launchers, “smart” munitions, radars, and satellites. The Russians used a company based in Hamburg, Germany, to ship some of the technology to sanctioned Russian defense companies. Two of the defendants are Yuri Orekhov and Artyom Us, one of whom is the son of a Russian governor, AFP reported. The report said, for example, that Orekhov traveled to the United States in 2019 to procure parts used in Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets. “Some of the types of electronic components obtained through the criminal scheme were found in Russian weapons platforms seized on the battlefield in Ukraine,” the Justice Department said. In addition to Orekhov, his Russian partners and two Venezuelan oil brokers used the German company to ship “hundreds of millions of barrels of oil” from Venezuela to Russia and China, in violation of sanctions. Venezuelan oil brokers are also indicted. The payments were made through shell companies, a bank in the United Arab Emirates, cash, and cryptocurrencies, the ministry said. The five Russians and the two brokers are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, sanctions violations, fraud, and money laundering. Orekhov and the Us were arrested on Monday in Germany and Italy, respectively, and the US will seek their extradition, the ministry said.

In the second scheme, the four arranged the purchase of an industrial machine manufactured in the American state of Connecticut. It was intended for the European market, but they tried to send it to Russia. The machine was impounded by the Latvian authorities. “These defendants attempted to smuggle into Russia a highly precise export-controlled commodity that could be used in Russia’s nuclear proliferation and defense programs,” US Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery said. The three Latvians were arrested on Tuesday and the Ukrainian national was arrested in June in Estonia. They are all charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling, and money laundering. The Justice Department is also seeking their extradition. Meanwhile, the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on Orekhov, the German company, and the Dubai company he controls. “Russia is finding it increasingly difficult to secure critical raw materials and technology necessary for its brutal war against Ukraine,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. “We know these efforts are having a direct effect on the battlefield, as Russia’s desperation has led it to turn to inferior suppliers and outdated equipment,” Adeyemo said.

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