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DefenseRussian missiles attacking Ukraine may contain American computer chips

Russian missiles attacking Ukraine may contain American computer chips

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Reuters: Bulgarian company in a scheme to import US missile components to Russia

Russian missiles attacking Ukraine may contain American computer chips reaching Russia through a Bulgarian company. This was reported by Reuters, according to revelations in its own investigation into the path of the components specialized for missiles from the United States to Moscow, quoted by Tribune.bg.

At the center of the events is Moscow businessman Ilias Sabirov, who has been supplying the Russian military with high-performance computer chips made in the United States for years. His business became more complicated in 2014, when Russia took over the Crimean peninsula. At the time, the United States was pressuring Russia with a number of new sanctions and export controls. They severely restrict the sale of chips that Sabirov has been providing to his country’s army for so long. Sabirov won significant sums by supplying these special chips to the Russian military machine, and sanctions have not stopped him from procuring more. The chips are specially designed to withstand radiation and extreme temperatures. These are military, critical components of missile systems and military spy satellites.

In the spring of 2015, Sabirov received a package of over 100 chips. U.S. prosecutors say the chips were supplied by a U.S. company in Austin, Texas. This company is “Silicone Space Technology” or SST for short. Radiation-protected chips were sent to Russia through a Bulgarian company in a bid to circumvent the US export embargo, prosecutors said.

In 2015, Silicone Space Technology changed its name to Vorago Technologies after their work became public.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, the United States and more than 30 other countries responded with another huge round of sanctions and restrictions on Putin’s government’s exports. The story of how sensitive American computer chips get from Texas to Russia serves as a signal of how even the strictest controls can be circumvented.

A criminal case is underway against Sabirov and two Bulgarian businessmen – his accomplices, and new details about the manner in which the fraud was carried out are coming to light. Together with Sabirov, Bulgarians Dimitar and Milan Dimitrov are accused in 2020 of illegally exporting chips to Russia and money laundering. From 2014 to 2019, illegal exports were carried out with the help of the three men. A careful investigation revealed a chain of suppliers, fictitious companies and false allegations in the export forms stating that the items were intended for civilian use only and not for military use. In addition to electronics, however, the Russians received from the United States and precision instruments to be used for military purposes. The manufacturer was fined nearly half a million dollars.

U.S. Department of Defense spokeswoman Sue Goff says radiation-resistant chips play a significant role in military communications, intelligence and surveillance.

She said: “The acquisition of radiation-protected technology by aggressive nuclear-weapon states such as Russia may encourage them by increasing the destabilization of international security. That is why protecting these chips is critical to US national security.”

Greg Slavens, who recently retired after 30 years as head of HSI’s anti-proliferation unit, said: “The Russians are constantly increasing their efforts to obtain chips for missile and space technology.”

So far, the Kremlin has not responded to a question about US accusations that it is using fraudulent schemes to circumvent Western sanctions and export restrictions. Sabirov denies involvement in the scheme, as well as links to Bulgaria for chip exports. Milan Dimitrov also denied the allegations, and his father, Dimitar, was not available for comm

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