Russian tanks use chips from household appliances due to sanctions

Cutting corners: Previous stories have shown how Russia has made up for shortfalls in electronic components caused by international sanctions since it began its invasion of Ukraine. Recent discoveries in Ukraine show how far Russian producers have come.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo spoke at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. quoted Ukrainians who found semiconductors from dishwashers and refrigerators in Russian tanks. Ukrainian officials say these are substitutes for components that Russian manufacturers cannot obtain due to international sanctions.

Raimondo said US technology exports to Russia have fallen by nearly 70 percent since Russia launched its invasion in late February. What’s more, US Department of Commerce spokeswoman Robin Patterson said that supplies of components from the US to Russia have fallen by 85 percent over the past year. Raimondo said Ukraine’s findings prove that sanctions are successfully reducing Russia’s military effort.

Complying with the sanctions, computer companies such as Intel, AMD, IBM, TSMC and GlobalFoundries have also stopped supplying chips to Russia.

One of Russia’s responses has been to turn a blind eye to illegal imports of electronics and components. Russia also plans to develop local microchip production and overhaul Western electronics. The country wants to produce its own 28nm nodes by 2030. Chinese purchases of old lithographic machines may make this goal unrealistic.

Russia is not the only organization that destroys household appliances to make up for the shortage of chips. ASML CEO Peter Vennick acknowledged last month that some companies are reusing chips from washing machines to make up for the ongoing global chip shortage.

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