It’s no secret that the Ukrainians have been very proficient in capturing Russian weapons and military equipment. They’ve managed to capture multiple weapons and vehicles, perhaps to study them or strip them down for parts, much to the frustration of the Russian forces running low on military armored vehicles themselves. It has now been reported that Russia is using various home appliances to repair its military equipment. It has also been revealed that Russia had been using foreign-made semiconductors and US-made microchips for their weapons and vehicles.

According to several reports, Russia had been using microchips and semiconductors from dishwashers and refrigerators as a result of the Western economic and fiscal sanctions levied on Moscow.

“We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military equipment on the ground, it’s filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told a Senate hearing.

If the Russians are indeed using microchips and semiconductors from home appliances imported from other countries (We have strong reason to believe that they do.), it is one more concrete piece of evidence that the Russian military-industrial complex is indeed in shambles.

SOFREP recently reported on the Russian military industry slowly shutting down as they no longer have parts and foreign components to build, repair, and maintain their various tanks, armored vehicles, ships, and even missiles. Evidence suggests that they are currently experiencing massive layoffs and contract cancellations due to their decreased capacity to produce any weapons or equipment for the Russian government.

Recently, the Russians have begun refurbishing T-62 tanks held in storage for decades to send into the fighting. One of the reasons may well be that the T-62 was made in the 1960s and lacks the electronic sophistication of modern tanks so they don’t have to scrounge around for chips and microprocessors to get them running again.

What’s worse is that the Russian military-industrial complex is highly dependent on imported technology, many of those imports being semiconductors and microchips from countries that sanctioned them. It was determined by researchers from the University of Zilina that the Russian defense industry was indeed reliant on importing electronic components, avionics, aircraft engines, and new generation composites for its military equipment. Around 80% to 85% of the Russian defense industry depended on these foreign components. Most of these semiconductors would likely come from Taiwan.

When the US and other western countries sanctioned Russia, this included exports of products to Russia as well as the prohibition of doing business with Russian companies and individuals. This, in turn, affected not only their consumer market but also their weapons manufacturing production supply chain. US technology exports to Russia have been reported to have fallen some 70% since February due to the export bans.

Russia could turn to China, but making microchips is complex and China probably lacks the ability to go from drawings to creating “clean room” assembly lines and production on its own.  China’s own military has to import things like jet engines from Russia for its own aircraft.

“Our approach was to deny Russia technology — technology that would cripple their ability to continue a military operation. And that is exactly what we are doing,” Raimondo said.

Furthermore, the export ban was a good move to paralyze its military-industrial complex as various sources also revealed that Russian weapons themselves were using semiconductors and microchips from the US.

Ukrainian officials reported that when they opened up Russian tanks, they found parts and microchips from AMD, Intel, Texas Instruments, and Linear Technology in the various communication and air defense systems of Russia. Furthermore, US-made chips were also found in their cruise missiles.

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An Intel microchip, used only for representation purposes (Slejven Djurakovic via Unsplash)

We reported that the primary Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod had halted production last March as its assets were frozen last February by western nations. This prompted them to release their very old T-62 tanks for combat, something that honestly belongs in a museum at this point. We also reported on Russian shipbuilder Vostochnaya Verf, the primary shipbuilder for the border forces of the Russian Navy, also halting production and suspended work last April 2022. Lastly, we also reported that the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant, a facility that produces surface-to-air missiles for the Russian military, had also been shut down due to a lack of parts.

Now we concretely know why. They were not just made with Ukrainian foreign components, but they were also made with US chips, imports of which have been suspended. According to a report by The Washington Post, US shipments of semiconductors, telecommunications equipment, lasers, avionics, and maritime technology have decreased by 85%, with their value decreasing by 97%.

With the main “brain” of the Russian weapons being unavailable to them, the Russians stripped-down whatever semiconductors and chips they could find from dishwashers, refrigerators, and other smart devices to make do with what they had.

Furthermore, the US Government itself has confirmed our initial reports that Uralvagonzavod Corporation and Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant have halted production, with over 20,000 highly skilled Russians fleeing the country because they had no work. As a result, Russia is not just struggling to replenish whatever military weapons and equipment they still have but also losing the people who know how to manufacture and repair them.

We guess Russia did not really think this invasion through. Their weapons are domestically manufactured with semiconductors and microchips from the West and other Asian countries that also produce this equipment, with some of the foreign components coming in from Ukraine. That’s one way to shoot yourself in the foot. By contrast, US weapons systems generally require that the critical components be made in the U.S. or sourced from allied countries that can provide a reliable chain of supply in any circumstances. For example, the Army’s  M119, 105mm howitzer is a licensed, modified version of the L118 light gun made in the UK (widely exported to other countries as well) and used by the British Army.  They are produced here in the US.