This is the conclusion of NOS and Nieuwsuur, who have been investigating smuggling in recent months. The chips are supplied by Nijmegen NXP and Nexperia. Its chips are known as dual-use products: they can be used for both peaceful products and weapons. On the battlefield in Ukraine, Dutch chips have been found in the remains of howitzers, helicopters, cruise missiles, and more. The British think tank RUSI, which investigated Russian weapons at Ukraine’s request, concluded six months ago that 10 of 27 disassembled systems contained NXP chips.
In principle, chips are not allowed to be exported to Russia. But they still ended up there through Asian intermediaries. According to data from NOS and Nieuwsuur, provided by RUSI, China’s Sinno Electronics is the largest.
The United States has already imposed sanctions on this company, but the European Union has not yet done so. It was only in October that the European Union decided to include these brokers in the list. According to Saskia Reitbroek, president of the International Association of Penal Lawyers, no mediator has been contacted since.
In response to NOS and Nieuwsuur, NXP reported that clients are being “aggressively” vetted. Nexperia, which is Chinese-owned, says it has an export control team that “uses state-of-the-art software to monitor our distribution.” But reselling to third parties “we can’t always control nor prevent.”
According to Rietbroek, when selling, suppliers can in principle contractually stipulate that the end user is not located in a sanctioned country. A customer like Sinno Electronics, known for supplying Russian parties, can no longer be considered innocent.
So far, the Russian sanctions have resulted in one lawsuit, from a Russian-Dutch who is suspected of having sold semiconductors to Russian defense companies via Kazakhstan. Customs says it has carried out tens of thousands of inspections, resulting in the interception of a single batch of chips worth €300,000.
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