How is it possible that Russia still has access to Western electronics to manufacture cruise missiles and has not run out of them? Didn’t the sanctions work? Are there ways to circumvent Western sanctions?
The Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Oleksiy Reznikov, provided information on the number of missiles the Russian invaders had left in their storage facilities on November 22, the eve of the country’s heavy shelling on November 23.
The infographic that is being shown estimates that the Russians have 8,000 S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The invading forces employ them to bombard Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure. Over 1,020 missiles have been fired from this arsenal since February by November 23.
But let’s find out how it was made possible for the Russians to fire missiles since February 24 despite the restrictions that have been in place since 2014 against the Russian military-industrial complex.
Fewer imported parts but more missiles produced
The Kh-35 missile, which is usually deployed as an anti-ship weapon but is also frequently used against Ukrainian cities, holds the record with 504 missiles out of just 860 available. This places this missile in third place for the most missiles utilized by Russians in the war against Ukraine.
360 of the 860 Kh-35 missiles that the Moscow invaders possessed were produced since the start of Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine, which is more than they managed to produce by all other missile technologies combined.
The reason for this is quite straightforward: the Kh-35 rocket does not contain any imported parts, or at least just a minimal amount of those, making its manufacturing entirely independent from the import of critical parts.
The Kh-35 missile does not contain imported parts
Back in 1977, when there was no consideration of any import from the West, the Soviet Union started developing the Kh-35 missile. Indeed, the first missiles were only produced in 1996 for India, but at that time, military cooperation between Moscow and the West was still in its early stages.
Later, it was claimed in the media that the Kh-35 could only be produced by Russians in such huge proportions since no imported parts were used in its manufacture.
Does the X-101 missile contain imported parts?
According to military analysts, the Kh-101 strategic cruise missile, whose production began in 2013, is one of the most recent and expensive (costing between $10 and $13 million) in Russia. The Russian military-industrial complex has developed 120 missiles of this class, which is a large number, since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
On one hand, Russian propaganda says that this missile is composed entirely of Russian parts and is undetectable to radars. Meanwhile, 35 microcircuits utilized in the Russian Kh-101 cruise missile’s onboard computer were produced in the United States, according to Ukrainian media citing intelligence data.
If imported components are present in the Kh-101 missile, it means that Russia managed to circumvent the Western sanctions. The Royal United Defense Research Institute (RUSI) scientists who found 450 different types of foreign components in 27 samples of Russian weapons announced this back in August.
Imported components in Kh-59, Kh-101, and Caliber missiles
The components were discovered in the Kh-59 air-to-ground missile, the Kh-101 cruise missile, the Caliber missile, and two types of missiles for the Iskander missile complex, according to the RUSI report.
There are only military microelectronics, even though the majority of their material is so-called “dual purpose”, meaning it can be used in both military and civilian equipment.
Transactions conducted after 2014 might have taken place on the illegal market or through middlemen, the latter of which undoubtedly included Hong Kong companies. For instance, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three people and the Hong Kong-based EMC Sud Limited in June 2022 because they were associated with a covert Russian-linked procurement network.
Foreign electronics in the Caliber, Kinzhal, and Iskander missiles
If it is still not crystal clear with the Kh-101 components, then there is no question that the well-known Russian missiles “Iskander” and “Kinzhal” use foreign electronics.
133 foreign parts were utilized in “Iskander” and “Kinzhal,” which were simply difficult to replace, as shown by one technical task from 2017 that is no longer available online: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0838.
Russia produced 120 Calibers since it attacked Ukraine at a full scale
But according to the infographic from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, the Russian invaders were able to reportedly produce 120 Calibers and 48 Iskanders since Moscow launched an all-out war against Ukraine. It indisputably proves the existence of a plan for the covert acquisition of components overseas through middlemen.
The production of the Kinzhal missile, which has 70% imported components, requires only 16 units, indicating that Moscow was unable to set up a plan for acquiring the necessary parts.
Ukraine needs a more efficient air-defense system
At the same time, a Ukrainian military expert and head of Defense Express Serhiy Zgurets called not to count Russian missiles but to work on creating an efficient air defense system in Ukraine that can intercept any number of missiles. In this light, Ukraine needs more modern air-defense systems to protect its sky from massive Russian missile attacks.