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​Uralvagonzavod Got Japanese and Taiwanese Electronics Through a Shell Company in China

Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024 / Open-source photo
Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024 / Open-source photo
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The U.S. and Britain are already aware of this russian sanctions circumvention scheme and preparing measures to stop it

Flagship of the russian tank production industry, the UralVagonZavod company, is importing electronic components for main battle tank navigation systems made in Japan and Taiwan. To make it happen despite international trade sanctions, russia uses an intermediary company registered in China by a "person connected to the government" of belarus, a russian satellite state.

Authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom are already aware of the situation and are expected to shut down the procurement scheme by imposing more sanctions, Nikkei reports. The authors credit Belpol, an exiled belarusian organization opposed to the current regime, which is said to have sources among personnel of the arms industry in belarus and thus access to the recordings of deliveries and transactions.

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Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024
Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024 / Open-source photo

The intermediary company used to buy electronics for the russian tank maker is Shenzhen 5G High-Tech Innovation, founded in 2022 by a person linked to the self-proclaimed President of belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. The shell company is registered in Guangdong province, China.

Shenzhen 5G bought electronics from the Japanese companies Metrol and Oriental Motor, Taiwanese Attoptic, and multiple companies from the People's Republic of China. The products in question are precision instruments — namely, positioning sensors, small motors, encoder disks, etc. — used in making key components of russian tanks, such as panoramic scopes of T-72, T-90, and other main battle tanks.

Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024
Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024 / Open-source photo

Interestingly, one of the contracts from May 2023 says, Shenzhen 5G bought sensor parts from Metrol for $2,200 apiece. After the purchases were made, the received electronics were first supplied to the belarusian state companies LLC Laboratory of Additive Technologies and SALEO, and only then to the russian Uralvagonzavod.

When inquired by Nikkei about these supplies, both Japanese companies, Metrol and Oriental Motor, denied they ever sent their products to Shenzhen 5G directly, for they comply with export control regulations. Meanwhile, the Taiwanese officials said their export laws align with the G7, and the latter doesn't forbid selling anything on behalf of belarusian LLC Laboratory of Additive Technologies since it was not included in the list of sanctioned entities. May the U.S., U.K., or Japan decide to add the company to the blacklist, Taiwan will follow the example, the spokesperson assured.

Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024
Production of tanks at the russian Uralvagonzavod, winter 2024 / Open-source photo
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