Ukraine-Russia War: Sanctions shut down Russian SAM production plant - GUR

Factory workers can either go on unpaid leave or join the Russian army in its invasion of Ukraine.

 Russian 9K37 Buk self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile launchers. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Russian 9K37 Buk self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile launchers.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A Russian facility responsible for the production of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) has been shut down due to import restrictions and Western sanctions in the latest military production item to suffer amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR) claimed Sunday.

The facility specifically being affected is the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant (JSC UMZ), a Russian military production factory located in the Ulyanovsk Oblast that was opened by the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

The facility is used to produce a number of different SAM models, such as the 9K37 Buk, designated by NATO as SA-11 Gadfly, and the 2K22 Tunguska, designated by NATO as SA-19 Grison.

But now, according to the GUR, the factory has been shut down. This is because, as noted by employees, "almost nothing Russian" is used during the critical state of production when electronic components are used. 

Most of the Russian military's electronic components were provided by Germany, but this has stopped due to the sanctions.

 A Russian 2K22 Tunguska anti-aircraft vehicle fires during a demonstration at the annual international military-technical forum ''ARMY'' in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia August 23, 2018. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS) A Russian 2K22 Tunguska anti-aircraft vehicle fires during a demonstration at the annual international military-technical forum ''ARMY'' in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia August 23, 2018. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

There were attempts to try to establish a line of supply through other countries, but this causes the cost to rise considerably and would put them over budget, according to the GUR.

With the factories closed, however, the workers are given one of two choices: Go on unpaid leave or join the Russian army for its invasion of Ukraine, preferably as a SAM operator, and get a monthly salary of 50,000 rubles (around $600).

SAMs play an important role in defensive warfare as they serve as an air defense system. They launch missiles from the ground to intercept airborne targets like missiles and aircraft and serve as a deterrent to protect airspace and maintain air superiority in a given area.

Russia employs various types of SAM systems, though the most famous and advanced systems used by Russia are the S-300 and S-400. 

It is unclear if the S-300 and S-400 systems were manufactured at the JSC UMZ.

This is merely the latest example of sanctions and import restrictions against Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine harming Russian military production.

On Friday, the GUR reported that Russia is struggling to produce more tanks for its military due to crippling financial sanctions and import restrictions.

The Russian firm UralVagonZavod, located in Nizhny Tagil in the Sverdlovsk Oblast, is the world's largest main battle tank manufacturer and is responsible for producing T-90s, T-72s and the next-generation tank the T-14 Armatas. 

Earlier in April, the GUR reported that some Russian shipyards are unable to construct warships or conduct maintenance on vessels due to financial hardships and a lack of foreign components.

In particular, a Vladivostok shipyard was allegedly unable to meet 25 billion rubles worth of government orders to build two tankers, two missile boasts, and to maintain and repair other vessels.

"It is obvious that the Russian military-industrial complex remains dependent on imported high technologies," wrote GUR at the time "Without the supply of which Russia is unable to continue production of modern weapons."

Michael Starr contributed to this report.