Report: Enabling war crimes? Western-made components in Russia's war against Ukraine
28 February 2023
A new report, released by the International Partnership for Human Rights and the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (NAKO), has found that western-made dual-use components have continued to reach Russia long after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and that western-made components have been and continue to be used within weapons involved in Russian suspected war crimes. The report explores multiple suspected war crimes that have been committed by Russian forces since the start of the full-scale invasion, with each of them believed to have been carried out using a weapon or weapons containing western-made components.
The revelation that western-made components continue to reach Russia long after the invasion raises moral and ethical concerns for the companies involved as well as questions about their due diligence and risk assessment processes. Trade data revealed that three western technology companies – two of which make dual-use components being sought by Russia to manufacture and repair its military equipment, and one of which makes a variety of a specific component needed by the Russian military – continue to export thousands of components worth millions of dollars to Russia as recently as in November 2022. Trade data shows that components manufactured by Harting, Trimble, and TE Connectivity continue to be imported by Russia, either through official distributors for the companies, or third countries such as Hong Kong and Turkey.
The data discovered and analyzed by NAKO as part of this report, indicates that the Russian Kalibr cruise missile includes components produced by 11 foreign companies, including 9 American ones, as well as Swiss and Taiwanese ones. This and other selected case studies with the detailed analysis will be made public in the coming weeks as part of the NAKO's report on Western components in Russia's weapons and military equipment.
This report also examines trade data that evidences manufacturers exporting to Russia since the full scale invasion, in some cases to the tune of millions of dollars. While this trade data provides insight as to unit volume, value, and product category, it cannot with precision determine the exact product(s) involved. It is therefore not possible to analyse the legal background to continuing this trade. Rather, in light of the suspected war crimes detailed throughout this report and the weapons used, we query said manufacturers’ ethical and moral judgement.
The beginning of the solution is to recognise that the problem exists. Up to now, businesses and policymakers alike have remained predominantly silent on this issue. This has been justified, at least in part, by the fact that the causes of the situation faced – western-made components being found in Russian equipment – are difficult to track and as such, a challenge to put right. The reality however, as this report demonstrates, is that civil society organisations and research groups can, using opensource intelligence, expose and trace these causes with immense precision. Lack of evidence or lack of understanding can no longer be used as a justification for inaction.