Russian tanks are using appliance chips due to sanctions

Cutting corners: Previous stories have shown how Russia is making up for deficiencies in electronics stemming from international sanctions since its invasion of Ukraine began. Recent findings in Ukraine underscore how far Russian manufacturers have come.

In a Senate hearing on Wednesday, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo cited Ukrainians who found semiconductors from dishwashers and refrigerators in Russian tanks. Ukrainian officials say these are substitutes for components that Russian manufacturers cannot source due to international sanctions.

Raimondo said US technology exports to Russia have plunged by nearly 70 percent since Russia began its invasion in late February. Additionally, US Commerce Department spokesperson Robyn Patterson said US component shipments to Russia fell 85 percent in the past year. Raimondo said Ukraine’s findings prove that sanctions are successfully dampening Russia’s war effort.

Complying with the sanctions, computer companies such as Intel, AMD, IBM, TSMC and GlobalFoundries also stopped chip sales to Russia.

One Russian response has been to turn a blind eye to illegal imports of electronics and components. Russia also plans to develop local chip manufacturing and reverse engineering of Western electronics. The country wants to produce its own 28nm nodes by 2030. Chinese purchases of old lithography machines could make that goal unrealistic.

Russia is not the only entity cannibalizing home appliances to fill chip deficiencies. Last month, ASML CEO Peter Wennik admitted that some companies are reusing chips from washing machines to offset the current global chip shortage.

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