TLDR: Sanctions against Russia mean the country is now looking to import semiconductors from China’s gray market, but there’s a problem: 40% of them are defective. This means that over the past few months, the number of refusals has increased by 1900%.
According to Register, the pro-Putin newspaper Kommersant writes that the percentage of defective chips imported into Russia before the war was only 2%, which is not very good, given how many components are in today’s electronics. Now, nearly eight months after the country invaded Ukraine, it stands at 40%.
Russia blames these failure rates on the pandemic affecting the supply chain and sanctions forcing it to import chips from China’s gray market, an area that is not only fraught with spoilage but also unreliable and slow.
Many businesses have left Russia as a result of import restrictions, and those that remain must deal with sanctions-evading Chinese companies for their semiconductors. Given that some of this unexploded ordnance was likely destined for military equipment supporting the war in Ukraine, one wonders whether Russia and China’s “boundless friendship” extends to importing boron-free chips.
China has not reaffirmed its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or condemned Putin’s actions. But the sanctions imposed on the country have benefited Chinese companies, which are coping with the restrictions imposed on them by the United States – we often see both countries banded together under sanctions, as was the case with export rules introduced a few weeks ago, which did not allowed Nvidia and AMD to sell their high-end AI-focused GPUs to Russia or China without a license.
After Russia first faced import sanctions, it made bold announcements that it would invest in domestic chip development, manufacturing, and staff training, with the intention of producing chips using a 28nm node by 2030. May brought news that Russia could not. Reliable semiconductors forced it to use components taken from dishwashers and refrigerators in its tanks, which are probably more reliable than Chinese imports anyway.