war in Ukraine
Putin’s tanks are patched up with spare parts from washing machines
Ukrainian specialists have found parts of household appliances in Russian tanks. The USA sees this as a success of the latest sanctions – in truth, another reason may have led to the kitchen technology in the T-tanks.
The US sanctions are having an effect. US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo believes so. She said in a Senate hearing that Russia needs to assemble its military equipment with unusual parts. She said: “We have reports from Ukrainians that Russian military equipment is equipped with semiconductors that they took from dishwashers and refrigerators.”
Raimondo said US tech exports to Russia have fallen nearly 70 percent since sanctions began in late February. Other countries have also joined the sanctions. “Our approach was to deny Russia technology – technology that would cripple their ability to continue a military operation,” she said. The US is also trying to force companies from countries that have not imposed sanctions to comply with US regulations.
Commerce Department spokeswoman Robyn Patterson later added that the story came from Ukrainian officials. They told the minister that they had found parts of refrigerators and commercial and industrial machinery in Russian tanks, which were apparently intended to replace other unavailable components. Raimondo pointed to reports that two tank manufacturers in Russia had to stop production due to component shortages.
Fresh off the assembly line
In fact, the story must be described as an anecdote, at least as far as the effectiveness of the sanctions is concerned. Because these sanctions have only been in effect since Putin invaded Ukraine. The tanks, whose inner workings are allegedly peppered with washing machine semiconductors because of the sanctions, should have just rolled off the assembly line. Or it could just be very isolated semiconductors from repairs.
It is rather unlikely that the parts were soldered out of household appliances. It is more likely that the Russian armaments industry used semiconductors from the West even before the war in Ukraine. These were then supposedly imported for civilian equipment, but in fact built into tanks and armaments. The sanctions are definitely effective: Russia will now also not be able to import any kitchen electronics. The shortage of semiconductors is likely to cause great difficulties for the Russian defense industry.
Undermining old sanctions
This conversion would be another reason for the quality problems of the Russian army. In general, the quality requirements for household technology are far lower than for military use, with its far more difficult operating conditions. A dishwasher is not made to run perfectly at ambient temperatures between minus 30 degrees and plus 40 degrees.
However, the kitchen semiconductors also show the difficulties of sanctions if such civil components can be used militarily. In Ukraine, this has already been seen with drones, which are adopted by the military as a ready-made civilian system and now drop small bombs instead of spraying fertilizer. But the powerful central control units of modern cars or game consoles could also be used for military purposes.