How Putin turned European refrigerators and washing machines into weapons against Ukraine

Europe sanctioned military components that could be used by Russian armed forces against Ukraine. But, Putin still managed to find a solution for this problem that Europe created with lots of hope

European officials are concerned that the sudden and unexpected increase in exports of European goods to Russia’s neighbours, including washing machines, refrigerators and electric breast pumps, may be aiding Vladimir Putin’s war machine weapons in Ukraine.

According to data obtained by Bloomberg from the EU’s Eurostat database, Armenia imported more washing machines during the first eight months of the year than it did during the previous two years combined. Through August, Kazakhstan imported European freezers worth $21.4 million, more than triple the amount for the same period the previous year.

So, what’s going on?

Authorities fear that the trade through Eurasian nations into Russia might be helping opportunistic enterprises in making up for shortages of imports from elsewhere. They also are deliberating if Russian companies have broken down the appliances and are using the components and semiconductors in civilian manufacturing.

Not only this, European officials who are acquainted with the data, are closely monitoring the increase in shipments to nations on Russia’s periphery because they are concerned that at least some of the products and their components are being used for military purposes.

Source: Interior Minister

Yes, the components of refrigerators and washing machines! After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials in Europe have previously publicly said that they have observed parts from refrigerators and washing machines appearing in Russian military weapons vehicles like tanks.

People involved with the evaluations said it was likely that parts and microchips from other consumer goods, even if largely in relatively low-grade equipment, were being exploited for military reasons as well.

For context, Russia has been subjected to sanctions in almost every sphere of its economy as a result of the Ukraine war, which prevents it from importing goods like chips and other components that are essential for making everything from basic military gear like radios and guns to more complex weapons like missile systems, fighter jets, and submarines.

Also Read: One phone call from Vladimir Putin makes South Korea go anti-Ukraine

The increase in electrical components

Electrical components imported to Russia’s neighbours from Europe have increased manifold. The trade figures, for instance, reveal that despite a 4.3% decline in the birth rate in Armenia, EU exports of electric breast pumps to that country nearly tripled in the first half of 2022 compared to the prior year. Similarly, Kazakhstan’s demand for breast pumps from the EU increased by 633% in the first half of 2022 despite an 8.4% decline in the country’s birth rate during that time.

Similar is the case with refrigerators and washing machines.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated last month that the Russian military was utilising refrigerator and dishwasher chips in its military systems because it was out of semiconductors. Similar claims were made by the Biden administration earlier this year, based on information about parts discovered in Russian tanks that were taken by Ukraine.

Source: The Washington Post

During the Soviet era, Russia had a long history of using smuggling and espionage to circumvent restrictions in order to equip its military.

UK’s leading think tank RUSI discovered 450 unique foreign-made components in an August analysis of 27 modern Russian weapon systems, the bulk of which were made in the US and the majority of the remainder in Europe and other countries that have sanctioned Russia.

Bryne, one of the authors of the RUSI report, “Common components used in weapons platforms such as microprocessors, analog-to-digital converters, field-programmable gate arrays and microcontrollers can also be found in a wide range of commercial goods such as televisions, cars, computers and cameras.”

Clearly, despite the sanctions, Russia has found its way out of the crisis. The whole episode is another example of how the sanctions have failed to impact Russia but in return have hounded Ukraine and Europe.

Did you guys ever imagine, that refrigerators and washing machine components can be turned into weapons? Do tell us in the comments.

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