As warfare has progressively become ever-more technologically complex, a sanctioned Russia cannot get its hands on the lifeblood of modernity: microchips.

The West’s crushing sanctions on Russia are making the waging of an effective war in Ukraine ever harder for the Kremlin. Russia, which has been unable to replenish its dwindling supply of important modern-weaponry components, such as microchips, is increasingly relying on outdated Soviet technology from the 1960s and 1970s.

A story, which originally ran in Politico, indicated that Russia had put together a list of microchips categorized by how high priority the type of chip was, which Moscow has been hunting the world’s black markets to find. The microchips, that are used in everything from airplanes to missiles, are off limits to Russia due to the sanctions implemented against Moscow by American, European, and Japanese partners.

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Despite earlier concerns that Moscow would rely on Beijing for high-end technology, US officials have indicated that China has not breached the sanctions on Russia and sold any off-limit goods. This is likely due to China’s pragmatism rather than idealism because China has been willing to broker cars, and other non-sanctioned goods, to Russia.

Russia’s long list of desired chips, prioritized by the types of chips needed along with the estimated cost per unit, demonstrates that Russia is in need of a wide number of microchips to make both its military and its general society operate. Experts had earlier warned that if sanctions against Russia are maintained, the existence of even civilian airlines normally operating in Russia would become impossible within a few years.

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US Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Ukraine must be victorious over Russia. Pompeo sought to assuage fears that a Trump presidency would hurt Ukraine.

Further complicating Moscow’s plight, sanctions have targeted so-called dual use goods, such as non-military technology that uses microchips which could then be stripped of the forbidden technologies. The provisions against selling Russia goods that have even a primarily non-military purpose, further has added grave damage to Russia’s beleaguered economy.

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In a stunning example of how limited the Russian military has become, the New York Times reported on Tuesday that Russia was buying artillery from the heavily sanctioned, hermit kingdom of North Korea to make up for its own inadequacy. North Korean weapons, though advanced, lag behind those that would be available if sanctions were not in place.

In recent weeks, US intelligence has reported that Moscow was purchasing technologically complex drones from Iran. Reports have indicated that Ukraine’s use of drones, including Turkish and American models, have been incredibly effective in identifying Russian positions, but also in directly assaulting Russian positions.

As Russia runs dry of technology, and has faced an exodus of people from high tech industries, the horizon above the world’s largest country looks ever grayer.

 

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