French company supplies Putin’s fleet with crucial electronics despite sanctions – Le Parisien

A French company based in Châteauroux continues to supply on-board electronics for Russian aircraft despite Western sanctions against Moscow for its war in Ukraine, the French media Le Parisien reported. Its source revealed that the French company supplies parts for Russian dictator Putin’s fleet of Il-96 and Super-Jet Sukhoi 100 aircraft.

To maintain Putin’s fleet of VIP aircraft, the Russians need a very specific part: the system that manages all the on-board electronics from the cockpit. From cabin lighting to the on-board transmission and communications network, not forgetting the controls for individual seats or screens.

This cutting-edge connector technology, which the Russians are not able to produce at home, is crucial. After Putin’s troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the West responded with sanctions, Moscow lost the possibility of importing these parts in an open and legal way.

PGA supplies electronics for Russian aircraft – Le Parisien

To equip and maintain VIP aircraft used by the Kremlin political and military leadership and oligarchs, the Russian aviation authorities needed products from the French company based in Châteauroux.

The PGA firm, specialized in avionics, a French subsidiary of the American Astronics group, headquartered in New York State, is based on the vast airfield that once housed a NATO base. This high-tech enterprise, which employs roughly two hundred people, has long been doing a large share of its business with Russia.

According to revelations made to Le Parisien by a former PGA executive navigating between France and Russia, PGA’s Russian business continued despite international sanctions that hit the aviation industry, starting with Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and strengthening since Russia started an all-out war against Ukraine in February 2022.

Since then, according to the publication’s source, the company has received between 4 and 5 million euros in Russian money, corresponding to the equipping of seven aircraft. Each contract is worth between 300,000 and 1.5 million euros.

Deliveries through Armenia and payments via Dubai

Russia managed to import French parts despite a strict embargo, particularly for supplies linked to Russia’s defense industry and political and military leadership. Le Parisien’s whistleblower revealed the scheme to circumvent sanctions.

According to the source, PGA is no longer able to send its teams to Russia and has had to send its kits, in large trunks filled with cameras, cables, and electronics, to a company (ETS) with a workshop on an old Soviet base near Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. There, the specialists in Châteauroux would directly equip the Russian aircraft.

The whistleblower guarantees the shipment of the containers from Yerevan, which serves as a simple mailbox, to Moscow. The aircraft assembly work would take place at a military airport on the outskirts of the Russian capital.

Moscow reportedly ordered 1 million euros worth of electronic equipment in December 2023 to ensure the maintenance of the Putin air fleet. Le Figaro’s source, the former executive, who remains well-informed due to his networks in the small world of civil and military high-tech aeronautics, expects all deliveries in 2024.

To get around Western sanctions, a French executive from the Châteauroux-based firm expatriated to Moscow and set up his own small team in the Russian capital from 2016 on. PGA had to go through Dubai (United Arab Emirates), resulting in an opaque payment scheme for French-made electronics deliveries to Moscow.

How to keep EU-made dual-use technology out of Russia’s hands

Adding corporate responsibility to European technology manufacturers could help prevent their goods from reaching the Russian regime and being used in their military production to fuel their war against Ukraine, experts say.

Companies that produce items that can be used for military purpose have to adhere to high corporate responsibility. Especially if it has already been revealed that their technology and parts have already been purchased by sham firms supplying Putin’s belligerent regime, which is waging an aggressive war in Ukraine, killing thousands of innocent civilians.

European governments have a duty to prevent the supply of their countries’ products to criminal regimes. The likelihood of evading sanctions decreased with the implementation of the most recent sanctions packages in December 2023 and February 2024. However, it’s still insufficient.

Companies that provide Russians with goods that could be used for military purposes ought to be held accountable. Sanctions should be more strictly enforced, and modern technology and machinery sales should be subject to inspection.

The absence of sanctions enforcement will significantly reduce the effectiveness of the West’s military assistance to Ukraine. Furthermore, continuing Russia’s weapons production will push the conflict closer to EU borders and incite further action from the Kremlin, perhaps against NATO and European nations.

Russian missiles built with the aid of European technologies have the ability to target cities within the European Union if Russia launches a war against European nations, amid reports that the Kremlin has been planning for it.

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