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WASHINGTON – As Russia seeks to reform its military over the next several years, officials know they don’t have the technology base to make the advances they see in Western military systems. For that reason, Russian intelligence agents are expected to remain very active in targeting U.S. technology for that nation’s military systems, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
This is becoming increasingly apparent in the latest revelation of an alleged 11-member Russian military procurement network operating in the United States.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested members, and named a Texas-based export company, for allegedly attempting to export embargoed U.S. microchips useful for radars, surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
The microelectronics require an export license and are so militarily sensitive that there would be a presumption of denial if the Russian government had gone through the legal process of submitting a license application for them.
The Russian procurement network, apparently operating on behalf of military intelligence, targeted analog-to-digital converters, static random access memory chips, microcontrollers and an assortment of embargoed microprocessors. None of these targeted items is produced in Russia.
The FBI first got wind of the activity by “recovering” a letter sent by a specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, Russia’s main domestic intelligence agency.
Some of the documentation originated with the FSB which was to be the recipient of some of the microelectronics.
The documentation went to an affiliate of a U.S. company that was under surveillance. The letter purportedly said that the microchips were faulty and the FSB demanded that the defendants provide replacement parts.
In working through U.S. cutouts, which in turn sent requirements to the U.S. supplier, this was sufficient to make U.S. domestic manufacturers and suppliers believe that they were selling them to a U.S. vendor. The cutouts in turn provided these U.S. suppliers with false end-user information, claiming they were for domestic use and never revealing that the items would be exported.
In uncovering documents that members of the network were supplying Russian government agencies with these embargoed items, the FBI also discovered a Russian Ministry of Defense document designating a subsidiary as a company certified to procure and deliver military equipment and electronics.
All 11 defendants were charged with one count of conspiring to violate and 21 counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, as well as conspiring to commit wire fraud.
The principal port of export for these goods was John F. Kennedy International Airport in the Eastern District of New York.
The defendants face 20 years on each count of violation of the IEEPA and AECA, with another 20 years for conspiring to launder money and 10 years for acting as unregistered agents of the Russian government.
The concern is that the recipients of the U.S.-made cutting edge microelectronics already have advanced Russia’s military technological capabilities. Because the advanced microelectronics were targeted for Russia’s naval weapons systems, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Department of the Navy worked closely with the FBI in breaking the case.
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