Hidden Passage in Central Asia Delivers Prohibited Technology to Russia – Executive Digest

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, with sanctions limiting the technology Russia can access, Moscow has tried to find ways to ensure it receives high-quality equipment with military applications. In Central Asia, between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and originating in China, a path of forbidden technologies is emerging that can cross borders and reach Russia.

The plan was discovered by the United States after it alerted customs officials on the border with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. At issue are the exports of 14 Chinese drones that were labeled as agricultural aircraft for spraying crops with pesticides.

According to the Washington Post, the identity of the buyer is ringing alarm bells: nearly 14,000 euros for each piece of equipment, which was ordered by a Russian company that would later be used in the war in Ukraine.

These types of aircraft were already seized by Russia at the beginning of the conflict, which Ukraine accused of planning to use them for chemical warfare. In fact, these drones can generally be used in agricultural work (and) capable of carrying loads of more than 30 kg. But they can be modified to carry ammunition.

Whatever their use, they were in the final stages of transit before reaching Russia. According to U.S. officials, this type of material enters Russia unhindered, and the seizure of 14 drones is a rare victory to stop the flow of electronic equipment to Russian forces.

The Biden administration has been eyeing Kyrgyzstan, home to several shell companies that have now become a conduit for Western and Asian tech products (and beyond) to cross barriers and reach Russia.

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It’s not just drones: aircraft parts, sights, weapons and advanced circuitry for use in bombs, missiles and other explosive devices.

“Kyrgyzstan, although small in comparison to other countries, is a clear example of all the factors that create an unacceptable favorable environment for evasion. [de sanções]”, notes a senior US government official, who says steps may be announced this week to pressure Kyrgyzstan to cut off sanctions on banned manufacturers’ direct trade route.

Looking at trade, it’s clear that something is not quite right: the overall volume of exports from Kyrgyzstan to Russia soared in 2022, a 250% increase over the previous year. Other changes are also evident, such as the fact that the range of products the country has negotiated with Washington has never had gun sights.

According to official documents, most of the Russian companies that receive equipment that comes this way are known suppliers of the Russian defense sector, and according to the Americans, it is the Russian secret services that cover the passage of prohibited goods and handle the means.

“Kyrgyzstan and Russia are members of the Eurasian Economic Union, and in general, Russia is one of our main trading partners,” says the Kyrgyz embassy in Washington, however, denying that the country is helping to circumvent international sanctions, and affirming its commitment to use international law against illegal trade.

However, those responsible refuse to comment on the drones of Chinese brand DJI, model Agra T-30. DJI suspended drone sales to Ukraine and Russia in February 2022, which explains why the Russian buyer chose an indirect route through a Kyrgyz company.

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Although these drones did not reach their destination, US officials point out that it is “inevitable” that others will follow through Russia’s new efforts.

There is no record of this particular model being used on the battlefield. But it is certain that Russia has expressed interest in purchasing drones capable of carrying payloads of more than 30 kg and capable of reaching altitudes of up to 14,000 feet. are for its secret orders.

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