Circumventing sanctions, Russia smuggling weapon materials through Georgia, East Asia - GUR

The Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate asserted that Russia was circumventing sanctions by smuggling materials and components vital for weapon production.

A train carries a captured Russian tank in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)
A train carries a captured Russian tank in Kyiv, Ukraine March 28, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

Sanctions-induced supply shortages have led Russian agents to set up smuggling channels through Georgia and East Asia to circumvent sanctions and resupply military, dual-use and civilian goods, the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR) alleged on Monday.

The alleged smuggling channels are not limited to Georgia or East Asia countries, but GUR claimed that "Georgian special services" were instructed by Georgia's political leadership to not interfere with Russian smuggling activities.

GUR asserted that Russia was smuggling in the vital materials, electronics and optics needed for producing modern military equipment and vehicles through East Asia. Advanced components were previously purchased from foreign companies, which were cut off by international sanction regimes.

The Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate had previously claimed on March 29 that the Russian defense industry was unable to meet its production contracts for munitions and vehicles because of sanctions and the consequent rising cost of raw materials and components.

Supposed Russian defense ministry documents GUR claimed to have obtained say that the Kremlin is collecting data on the status of government defense contracts and disruption "associated with rising prices for the raw materials and components used."

 A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armoured vehicles, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in Bucha, in Kyiv region (credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA) A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armoured vehicles, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in Bucha, in Kyiv region (credit: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA)

Due to the loss of key foreign components and costly raw materials, Russia may have to produce older components and vehicles — in the case of one factory, equipment allegedly developed from as far back as the 1960s — instead of modern gear GUR claimed. 

The Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, was announced to have had its production delayed on March 20, but this was attributed to a backlog of production demands. 

On March 26, the directorate also claimed that Russia was attempting to restore preexisting old vehicles to replace losses suffered during its invasion of Ukraine but it is encountering difficulty in doing so because of corruption and the poor condition of the equipment.

Ukraine's armed forces have claimed in operational reports throughout the previous week that the Russian military was attempting to reorganize, resupply, and replace lost equipment and vehicles. The Russian military has suffered logistical issues throughout the war, according to Western and Ukrainian intelligence estimates.

GUR also claimed on Monday that it had assessed that the resumption of flights between Russia and Georgia was also being considered, at a time when more and more countries had denied Russian access to their airspace.