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27 Sep 2023

Daniel Boffey, The Guardian

Iranian drones used by Russia in attacks on Ukraine contain more than 50 electrical Western components imported via third countries, new report shows; incl. cos. comments

Revealed: Europe’s role in the making of Russia killer drones, 27 September 2023

Iranian kamikaze drones used in the latest attacks on Ukrainian cities are filled with European components, according to a secret document sent by Kyiv to its western allies in which it appeals for long-range missiles to attack production sites in Russia, Iran and Syria.

In a 47-page document submitted by Ukraine’s government to the G7 governments in August, it is claimed there were more than 600 raids on cities using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) containing western technology in the previous three months.

According to the paper, obtained by the Guardian, 52 electrical components manufactured by western companies were found in the Shahed-131 drone and 57 in the Shahed-136 model, which has a flight range of 2,000km (1,240 miles) and cruising speed of 180kmh (111mph).

Five European companies including a Polish subsidiary of a British multinational are named as the original manufacturers of the identified components.

“Among the manufacturers are companies headquartered in the countries of the sanctions coalition: the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Poland,” it claims.

According to the document, Iran has already diversified its production through the use of a Syrian factory delivering to the Russian port of Novorossiysk but the production of drones is shifting to Russia, to the central Tartar region of Alabuga, although Tehran continues to supply the components...

Customs information is said by the Ukrainian report to show that “almost all the imports to Iran originated from Turkey, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Costa Rica”.

Bart Groothuis, an MEP who sits on the European parliament’s defence and security subcommittee, said there had been insufficient coordination among the EU’s intelligence services to grapple with the misuse of western components. “I think many European intelligence agencies aren’t even looking at sanctions,” he said.

The Ukrainian government document – “Barrage deaths: report on Shahed-136/131 UAVs” – provides the most up to date analysis of Russia’s changing drone tactics and production plans since the first use of Shahed drones was recorded in the Kharkiv region on 13 September 2022, in the city of Kupiansk...

A fuel pump manufactured in Poland by the German company Ti Automotive GmbH, of which the British multinational TI Fluid Systems is the parent company, was discovered in a Shahed-136, as well as a microcontroller with built-in flash memory and a very low-voltage drop regulator with inhibitor made by the Swiss firm STMicroelectronics, according to the paper.

Also discovered in a Shahed-136, was an integrated circuit of a buffer network driver and a transistor made by International Rectifier, a subsidiary of the German firm Infineon Technologies AG.

TI Fluid Systems did not respond to a request for comment. Their equipment is freely available to buy from retailers across Europe and the company has previously said it does not sell into Iran.

A spokesperson for STMicroelectronics said: “We work with more than 200,000 customers and thousands of partners around the world. We do not authorise or condone the use of our products outside of their intended purpose.

“We have a comprehensive global trade compliance programme through which we comply with all international trade rules and regulations. We have an internal export control compliance programme that contains training and procedures to assure compliance with various export controls regulations. As part of that programme, we provide guidelines to our sales channels to assure each party in our supply chain understands its responsibility to comply with applicable laws and regulations.”

A spokesperson for Infineon said it did not sell components to Iran and it had liquidated its operation in Russia in March last year.

He said: “In general, compliance with applicable laws is of utmost importance for Infineon, and we have established robust policies and processes to comply with these laws. We instruct our customers including distributors to only conduct consecutive sales in line with applicable rules.

“It proves difficult to control sales throughout the entire lifetime of a product. Still, we have taken extensive measures at our disposal to ensure compliance with sanctions against Russia aiming to not only comply with the letter but also with the spirit of the sanctions.”

In the Shahed-131 model, the Ukrainian experts identified a 14-channel, customisable integrated power management circuit and a microprocessor made by the Dutch company NXP Semiconductor and a power transistor and integrated circuit from International Rectifier...