abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

Diese Seite ist nicht auf Deutsch verfügbar und wird angezeigt auf English


19 Mai 2023

Maria Zholobova, IStories,
Benjamin Bidder, Der Spiegel,
Vyacheslav Abramov, Vlast,
Ilya Lozovsky, OCCRP

Kazakhstan becomes pathway for supply of Russia’s defence sector with drones & microelectronics despite Western sanctions, new investigation shows

Kazakhstan has become a pathway for the supply of Russia’s war machine. Here’s how it works, 19 May 2023

  • Trade statistics show large increases of drone and microelectronics imports to Kazakhstan since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. Kazakhstan’s exports of drones and microelectronics to Russia have also grown enormously.
  • Kazakh companies registered by Russians after the war are being used as intermediaries for these imports.
  • One company called Aspan Arba, meaning “Sky Chariot,” imported drones and sent them to a Russian company called “Sky Mechanics,” which sold them to pro-war organizations. The two companies have the same owner.
  • A German company owned by a Russian couple sent microchips to a Kazakh company, established shortly after the invasion, owned by their son. It then sent the chips to Russia.

... A database compiled by one researcher contains dozens of examples of Russian forces using drones — often lightweight, commercially available models — for reconnaissance, artillery spotting, and shooting propaganda videos. Many of these drones are foreign-made...

In theory, the import of drones into Russia should have been choked off by Western sanctions. In practice, however, it is clear that avenues for their procurement remain open. And it’s not just drones. Advanced microchips — used in everything from missiles to demining robots — are also flowing into Russia from abroad.

Reporters from IStories, OCCRP’s Russian partner, set out to learn how this was happening. In several cases, they found, Russian citizens who were already selling these devices before the war established new foreign companies that then became part of the supply chain.

The routes traced by reporters in this investigation run through Kazakhstan, a country that has made efforts to remain on good terms with both Russia and the West...

...Kazakh trade data strongly suggests that the country is used as an intermediary destination for Russian drone imports...The import of microchips...has skyrocketed: In 2021, official statistics show, $35 million of the components were imported into Kazakhstan, a figure that had grown only moderately in recent years. In 2022, imports more than doubled to over $75 million...

These findings reinforce earlier reporting by IStories that Russia appeared to be easily skirting sanctions restrictions, with both the Russian company that manufactures “Orlan” drones and the Rostec industrial conglomerate successfully importing Western components.

“Sanctions are highly dependent on everyone coming together,” said Eric Woods, a specialist in export controls at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury College. “All companies should be doing due diligence on who they’re doing business with, especially with known sanctions evasion hubs. This is why secondary sanctions exist, and we can see governments pressuring other governments to be part of their sanctions regimes. More enforcement would be a good message that would increase compliance”...

Though some drones used in the war are custom-made or specialized military models, both Russia and Ukraine have also relied heavily on off-the-shelf consumer products...