In an unsettling revelation, it has come to light that British manufactured components have been integrated into Russian cruise missiles raining over Ukraine.
A report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has revealed that British technology is being transported through third countries and ending up as critical components of bombs used in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The role of China and India has now come under the scanner for shipping British technology to Russia which is being used for military purposes by Moscow.
The report, titled ‘Operation Z: The Death Throes of an Imperial Delusion’, details how Indian and Chinese companies have acted as middlemen, allowing the Kremlin to purchase electronic chips and switchboards made in the United Kingdom, which are a critical component of Russian cruise missiles.
The technology enters Russia through a legal gap that allows “material to be brought into Russia without the permission of the owner of the relevant intellectual property”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking who visited India last week, stated that his government would endeavor to fix these loopholes.
He said, “We want to ensure we keep that tight. We’ll be making sure that we don’t allow any loopholes of any kind. We will take steps to make sure that stuff doesn’t go through other routes to Russia”.
📷Russian cruise missile hit a bridge at Zatoka. It's the only Ukrainian bridge connecting Budjak with the rest of Ukraine. Other roads lead through Moldova. #Ukraine #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/f2kT7yJGMM
— MilitaryLand.net (@Militarylandnet) April 26, 2022
The RUSI report revelations come a few days after an EU report had revealed that NATO countries France and Germany had provided Russia with €273 million ($295.4 million) in military hardware which was likely being used in Ukraine, EurAsian Times had noted.
Despite an EU-wide arms embargo imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the two major NATO allies supplied bombs, rockets, missiles, and firearms to Moscow.
NATO countries trading with Russia in hardware had also made use of some legal loopholes in the EU embargo regime, similar but not identical to what Indian and Chinese companies have been doing.
Russian Cruise Missiles Using British Components
The RUSI report examines Russia’s reliance on Western electronics for the manufacture of 9M727 cruise missiles, Kh-101 cruise missiles, 9M949 guided 300-mm rockets, TOR-M2 air-defense systems, and Aqueduct radios.
In addition to the United Kingdom, the report mentions technologies from the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, and Israel. “Almost all of Russia’s modern military hardware is dependent upon complex economics” imported from Western nations, the report found.
The researchers have discovered that much of the technology is officially transferred to nations like India for use in other products, but ultimately sold to Russia for military use.
According to the report, while the companies may not have known that the Russian military was the “end-user”, Russia has “established mechanisms for laundering these items through third countries.”
A Russian Tu-95 strategic bomber. Ukraine's military says Russia used them to launch yesterday's cruise missile attack on military and civilian targets in Odesa. Three of 8 missiles were shot down, Ukraine says. The attacks killed 8, including a 3-month-old child, and injured 18. pic.twitter.com/P8Fo1AM4zJ
— Euan MacDonald (@Euan_MacDonald) April 24, 2022
The report’s authors, defense experts Dr. Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, wrote: “Western countries must conduct a thorough assessment of where their companies are knowingly or inadvertently supplying Russia and cut off these channels.”
India and China are the largest buyers of Russian military hardware and have a very significant relationship with Moscow which has kept them from openly condemning Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.
While China has reaffirmed the relationship in the course of the war, India has adopted a more autonomous approach and decided to buy Russian oil at bargain prices. The West has expressed its disapproval of these policy actions.
However, it has issued stern warnings to countries that refuse to condemn Russian President Putin against helping Moscow circumvent the sanctions imposed by the Western world.
While the oil is something that the West could consider as an exception, electronic chips from the UK integrated into Russian cruise missiles is a ‘red line.’
Russia has used its cruise missiles to bombard Ukraine’s military convoys, installations, and weapon depots to cripple the latter’s war-fighting capacity at times leading to civilian casualties. At a time when the UK is sending lethal long-range weapons to the Ukrainian military fighting against invaders, its components in Russia could be considered obnoxious.
‘The Death Throes Of An Imperial Delusion’
The report also examines Russian failings during the deadly war in Ukraine’s early stages. It believes that among the reasons Putin was forced to abort his assault on Kyiv were logistical supply challenges, inadequate information, and inefficient use of artillery fire.
The appointment of a new head of the invading forces, General Aleksandr Dvornikov, according to the report, might signal a critical turning point in the Russian mission.
It further says that Russia has attempted to pin down Ukrainian air defenses across the country by continuing to launch ballistic and cruise missile strikes on cities, but it has now been forced to begin the operation again due to its unwillingness to see its position degrade.
The researchers predict that the operation in Donbas cannot be decisive. Russia may seize Donbas, but Ukraine will not accept a ceasefire on these terms because it will allow Russia to consolidate its victories, giving it the opportunity to annex Ukraine piece by piece.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s goal is to reclaim its lost territories, an operation that can only be carried out if Russia’s offensive is stifled.
The report seeks to examine how the interconnected challenges confronting #Moscow are reshaping Russian policy, and the risks Moscow’s potential courses of action pose as the war enters a new phase. pic.twitter.com/j8t04ysNrG
— RUSI (@RUSI_org) April 22, 2022
The next crucial date to monitor, according to the RUSI research, is May 9, which is a national holiday in Russia celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two and is known as Victory Day.
Putin had hoped to have seized large swaths of Ukraine by then, but given his shame over his failed efforts, the authors of the RUSI research believe the Kremlin would use Victory Day to mobilize and enlist thousands more Russians into the army.
Having said that, the revelations of the report could trigger a spate of legal bickering and upgrades to legal export mechanisms in the UK as well as other countries to close all loopholes and block any sensitive export through any third country to Russia that could in any way aid its war machine as the conflict in Ukraine drags on.