U.S. sanctions force Russia to use dishwasher and refrigerator computer chips in some military equipment, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday.
“We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military equipment in the field, it’s full of semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” Raimondo said during a briefing. hearing in the Senate, noting that she recently met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine.
U.S. technology exports to Russia have fallen nearly 70% since sanctions began in late February, according to Raimondo, whose department oversees export controls that form a large part of the sanctions package. Three dozen other countries have adopted similar export bans, which also apply to Belarus.
“Our approach was to deny Russian technology – technology that would cripple their ability to continue a military operation. And that’s exactly what we’re doing,” she said in response to a question from Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., on the impact of export controls.
The semiconductor anecdote came from Ukrainian officials, who told the Secretary that when they opened up captured Russian tanks, they found parts of refrigerators and commercial and industrial machinery that appear to offset other components unavailable, Commerce Department spokeswoman Robyn said. said Patterson.
The number of US shipments to Russia of items subject to the new rules – semiconductors, telecommunications equipment, lasers, avionics and maritime technology – has fallen by 85% and their value has fallen by 97%, compared to the same period in 2021, Patterson mentioned.
In his remarks to the Senate, Raimondo also pointed to recent reports that two Russian tank manufacturers had to halt production due to a lack of components. The White House, too, has previously highlighted this information, saying Uralvagonzavod Corporation and Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant have halted production.
Computer chips, also known as semiconductors, are the brains that power most modern electronic devices, from appliances to fighter jets. Russia makes few of its own chips, historically relying on imports from Asian and Western companies.
The world’s largest computer chip companies began halting shipments to Russia in late February after U.S. restrictions took effect.
The United States and other Western countries had previously regulated sales to Russia of chips and other electronic components specially designed for military use. These sales required a government license even before Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.
The new rules tightened those restrictions and also blocked the sale of most dual-use chips, which have both military and commercial applications, to non-military users in Russia, including those in high-tech industries.
The Biden administration has said the ban would cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports and reduce the country’s ability to diversify its economy and support its military. The ban was not designed to block shipments of consumer electronics.
In a new move the US has only used once before – against China’s Huawei – it is also forcing companies around the world to play by the rules and block such sales to Russia if they use American manufacturing equipment or software to produce chips. Most chip factories around the world use US-designed software or equipment, analysts say.
Previous research has shown that the Russian military has long relied on Western electronics. Russian military drones shot down over Ukraine in recent years were full of Western electronics and components, according to investigators from the London-based Conflict Armaments Research Group (CAR), which dissected the drones .