As the Western sanctions on Russia are weighing heavy on its economy, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo revealed that Russian military equipment was found to be “filled with semiconductors from dishwashers and refrigerators”.
Amid the adverse impact of sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia in the past 15 months, the country is reportedly equipping its soldiers with weaponry containing components salvaged from household appliances.
Dr Lawrence Haar, a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton’s School of Business and Law, highlighted how there are media reports of parts from household appliances being used in building missiles.
“They’re resourcing, we know there’s lots of illegal trade going through other countries, I’m just telling you what I’ve read in the press as well. They’re repurposing things like computers that used to go into washing machines and now are going into missiles,” Dr Haar said, while speaking to Express.co.uk.
Dr Haar’s remarks come against the backdrop of US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s statement to the Senate, where she revealed receiving reports from Ukrainians who claimed that Russian military equipment, upon analysis, was found to be “filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators”.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February the previous year, US technology exports to Russia have plummeted by nearly 70 percent, as stated by Secretary Raimondo.
The UK has also implemented sanctions, including restrictions on technology transfer and technical assistance to Russia, aiming to hamper the country’s military operations in Ukraine. Furthermore, Russia’s crude oil and energy exports have suffered significant blows due to these sanctions.
Dr Haar, an expert in financial-economic theory applied to the energy, petroleum, and natural resource sectors, believed that the “burden on the Russian economy grows by the day”.
When asked about the effects of Western sanctions on Moscow, he said, “They managed to keep some of their exports going, like discounted oil and natural gas that are being sold somewhere else at a slight discount. They don’t have access to capital markets anymore. Within two or three years, the oil industry is going to start going away, the way it went in Venezuela.”
Despite relying on major international oil companies like Shell and BP for technological support, Russia’s Gazprom lacks such capabilities, he noted. He further underlined that the deteriorating state of equipment acquired from the West will necessitate production cuts in the future.
While Russia is attempting to compensate for its diminishing resources, Dr Haar believed that Moscow’s current situation is unsustainable in the long run. “But at some point, their situation is going to get more and more narrow, more stressed,” he pointed out.
As Dr Haar noted, Russian oil is still flowing, albeit no longer directly to Europe. Instead, it is redirected to India, China, and Turkey, who purchase it at heavily discounted prices. Some of this cheaply acquired Russian oil finds its way back to Europe, particularly after India refines it into fuels and resells it to the EU at competitive prices.
The Asian market has allowed Moscow to increase oil exports to levels seen prior to the invasion of Ukraine. However, this increase has not translated into revenue, as March figures showed a 43-percent year-on-year decline compared to 2022, according to commodities tracking firm Kpler.
Recently, Moscow released a report stating that the country’s economy contracted by 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2023. The cumulative effects of sanctions and economic strain are becoming increasingly visible, putting pressure on Russia’s economic prospects.