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Capacitors for missiles and drones are entering Russia through Hungary and Lithuania - investigation

29 Apr, 2024
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Capacitors for missiles and drones are entering Russia through Hungary and Lithuania - investigation

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Tantalum capacitors are an integral component of electronics. They are practically not produced in Russia, but despite sanctions, no industry, including the military, experiences a shortage of them, as they are used, for example, in drones Korsar and Shahed. Capacitor production is carried out in Israel and El Salvador, and supplies are made through a number of countries, including Ukraine's allied states. Import routes have been tracked, including deliveries through China, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Hungary, and even Lithuania, reports The Insider.

Tantalum, known as a "conflict mineral," became in demand in the early 2000s and even more so in the 2020s. Capacitors that use tantalum are essential in telecommunications, electric vehicles, medical, military, and aerospace industries. They have high temperature resistance and greater capacitance compared to capacitors made from other materials.

Russian enterprises do not process tantalum ore, and only at the end of 2023 were steps taken to establish tantalum powder production in Russia. This is due to the rise in prices for imported powder after the start of the military conflict.

Foreign companies such as Apple, Intel, Samsung, have already stopped buying tantalum ore from Russia due to sanctions. Tantalum is produced in Russia in small quantities, and the country depends on imports.

Tantalum is used in the production of weapons and aviation equipment, making it a critical component of the defense industry. Despite the introduction of licensing for the export of tantalum capacitors to Russia, supplies continue through various channels.

Imported tantalum capacitors were used in Russian drones and missiles used against Ukraine. These details were entered into the database of the National Anti-Corruption Agency of Ukraine.

Among the capacitors used in missiles and drones that were identified, products from Kyocera AVX, Vishay (specializing in military components), and KEMET Corporation were included. These companies are headquartered in the USA, but their products somehow end up in Russia and are used in missiles firing at Ukrainian cities. The Insider tracked the route of these capacitors, the trade, and logistics of which should be under international control.

One of the major exporters of capacitors is El Salvador, where, thanks to industrial development and foreign investment, a plant of the Japanese-American company Kyocera AVX is located. These capacitors can be used in various electronics, including missiles. According to data, a quarter of all capacitor shipments to Russia came from El Salvador in 2021. However, the situation may have changed since then due to reporting specifics.

Also, Israeli company Vishay, specializing in military components, has a significant presence in the Russian market. In 2023, tantalum capacitors worth about $1.3 million were delivered to Russia from Vishay, but supplies were not made directly from Israel. Instead, they came through Cyprus, Hungary, China, and Hong Kong.

Also among the suppliers of tantalum capacitors to Russia is the American company Kemet (part of the Taiwanese corporation Yageo), which also specializes in military components. Capacitors from Kemet worth at least $6 million were imported into Russia in 2023. These parts were manufactured in Mexico and were delivered to Russia through Hungary with the help of the local trading company Matrix Metal Group Kft.

Interestingly, capacitor suppliers and manufacturers are subject to sanctions and international restrictions, yet their products somehow find their way into the Russian defense industry. Some of these companies are forced to block supplies to Russia due to export rule requirements, but others use various intermediary countries to circumvent sanctions and continue their trade.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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