Companies supplying components for Russian weapons exposed in Germany

An investigation by the German organization ARD Monitor, the Dutch program Nieuwsuur, and the British think tank RUSI has shown that the Russian military sector acquired Western military technology through the companies Compel and WWSemicon, which supply it through third countries.

The prosecutor’s office conducted a search of Compel’s commercial premises near Munich in December. According to an investigation by the German organization ARD Monitor, the Dutch program Nieuwsuur, and the British think tank RUSI, the company supplied components for Russian weapons, such as transistors, voltage converters, integrated circuits, or microchips. The German analytical publication TagesSchau posted its investigation in December.

Russia’s dependence on Western technologies

The investigation showed that the Russian military sector provides itself with Western military technologies through the company Compel, whose ties extend from Russia to Hong Kong, Slovakia, and Germany.

Compel’s headquarters in Moscow look inconspicuous, but the company is one of the largest traders of electronic components in Russia. Although it officially claims to supply goods only to the civilian sector, the defense industry is not among its customers.

However, ARD Monitor, Nieuwsuur, and RUSI were able to review documents that show that Compel also supplies its products to companies that, in turn, work closely with the Russian military-industrial complex.

The United States has sanctioned a number of them this year and added Compel to its sanctions list in July 2023. The company is not yet on the EU sanctions list.

Components from Germany in Russia’s most advanced weapons?

A study of import data for Russia showed that Compel also maintains close relations with Europe. An important supplier of the company is WWSemicon GmbH from Germany, which is located near Munich. The documents indicate the supply of several thousand electronic components.

They also include voltage converters—components similar to those found by forensic experts in Ukraine in the remains of Russian weapons. The Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone and cruise missiles like the X-101 or 9M727 Iskander-K utilize the converter. Cruise missiles are among the most advanced weapons systems in the Russian army.

In December 2023 and January 2024, the Russian army used these missiles to conduct massive air strikes of Ukrainian cities, targeting first of all Kyiv and Kharkiv. In October 2023, this missile killed more than 50 people in Kupiansk.

Furthermore, Russia has also received a number of other components. WWSemicon reported that it ceased supplying Compel products before the imposition of sanctions, stating that the export was legal at the time due to a significant research cooperation request.

However, the moral aspect remains, as the company was well aware that Russia is waging a war against Ukraine, and their components can be used in Russian weapons in this war.

Military goods that are still not sanctioned

But this is often the problem, says economist Elina Rybakova of the Kyiv School of Economics, who studies Russia’s military economy. According to her, the EU and US sanctions lists still contain too few goods “related to the war.”

So far, the EU and the US have agreed on sanctions for only 45 out of over 300 groups of goods. However, in addition to legal exports, supplies of WWSemicon product groups are also appearing in Russia.

Compel delivers them through warehouses in Bratislava and Lithuania.

Suspicious shipments from Europe to Russia

An expert in sanctions law, Bärbel Sachs, finds the shipments suspicious, assuming that they are listed goods prohibited for sale, export, and delivery to Russia based on the data available.

However, neither the company nor the responsible authorities answered specific questions about the suspicious shipments to the media outlet.

Trade routes to Russia through third countries

In any case, the delivery routes of such goods are difficult to comprehend, as some of them run through several countries. Compel and WWSemicon maintain close commercial relations with the Hong Kong-based company Finder Technologies.

Compel and WWSemicon maintain close commercial relations with the Hong Kong-based company Finder Technologies, which also interconnects them.

The daughter of Compel’s CEO is a partner of WWSemicon in Munich, and the founder of WWSemicon is the current managing director of the company in Hong Kong. According to experts, Hong Kong has become an important gateway for Western technologies subject to sanctions to ship them to Russia. Similarly, China and Turkey.

Foreign components in Russian missiles and drones

Ukrainian researchers have been inspecting Russian missiles, drones, tanks, and other weapons and equipment since the start of the full-fledged assault. Ukrainian experts have determined that out of the approximately 3,000 items analyzed, only 14 were manufactured in Russia.

Russian army poured a massive missile attack on Kyiv and Kharkiv


Previously, Ukraine’s National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) added additional elements of Russian and Iranian weaponry to the world’s only open database of foreign components in weapons.

The list grew by over 150 components, including five additional pieces from the Russian Tornado-S MLRS rounds (9M544) and 137 components from the Iranian Mohajer-6 UAV. The base already includes almost 2,750 components in total.

Russia manufactured only 14 out of the nearly 3,000 components evaluated. Thus, Moscow is not able to produce deadly rockets without foreign components, which leads us to the major significance of anti-Russian sanctions implementation, eliminating loopholes for sanctions evasion, and halting dual-use goods imports to Russia.

Is Kyrgyzstan a hub for re-export of goods to Russia in sanctions evasion schemes?
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