180307 Collaborators in the EU 0Four years have passed since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Yet, in some cases, the ban imposed by the United States and the European Union on military-technical cooperation with Russia is being openly ignored.

 

 

 

 

 

Who is it exactly who wants war?

 

In 2016, the Defence Express expert group drew attention to the fact that many European countries are violating the established sanctions regime by bypassing them in various ways. 

 

Italy, for example, despite a direct ban on the supply of weapons and military equipment to Russia, continued to provide the newest Iveco LMV Lynx armoured vehicles, even after the imposition of sanctions. In addition, the Italians did not hesitate to trade with one of the sponsors of the wars in Ukraine and Syria, the oil monopoly Rosneft. In December 2014, Rosneft and Rostekh, the state corporation and the subsidiary of the Finmeccanica Italian company AgustaWestland S.p.A (Italy), set up near Moscow a joint venture for the production of AW189 helicopters on the basis of HeliVert.

 

The cooperation between Volzhsky Optical and Mechanical Plant and Thales Optronics (France) was also mentioned in the framework of the licensed production of thermal imaging devices for sighting complexes of exported Russian T-90S tanks. The report noted that the French industrial conglomerate SAFRAN continues to occupy a leading position in the Russian market, offering joint solutions in partnership with Russian industrial enterprises for the aerospace industry, as well as in the field of security.

 

There are also examples of cooperation between Russia, Hungary and Greece. A powerful lobbying pressure was exerted on Germany to lift sanctions and to return to business as usual with the Russian Federation in the defence sphere.

 

In 2018, the situation has become somewhat more complicated. If earlier the producers and establishment of the EU countries sought back alleys to bypass the sanctions regime and to hide the facts of cooperation, now some of them are openly violating it. They are hoping that a critical mass will be able to reverse the nature of the relationship with the “Old World” that emerged after Russian aggression.

 

 

France

 

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Despite official discourse on the need to adhere to the sanctions regime until the resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the situation on the ground is different. Several French companies are openly doing business with the Russian Federation, hence increasing the defence capabilities of the latter.

 

For example, in January 2014, the French company ESA entered into a contract with the Russian company Prominves, part of the Rostekh state corporation, for the delivery of four unmanned boats ‘Ispector Mk 2’ as well as anti-mine vehicles for the minesweeper, project 12700, of the Russian Navy. 

 

It would seem that its implementation, in accordance with EU imposed sanctions, should be suspended, and the money received returned to the customer. However, this was not the case. Although the contract was reduced to three boats, Russia still received them: the first - in the Autumn of 2015, the second - in late 2016, and the third - in July 2017.

 

The boats were sent to the Russian JSC “Sredne-Nevsky Shipyard”, which is a part of JSC “United Shipbuilding Corporation”.In addition, the ESA has supplied kits of its mine action system, which, in addition to the boat, includes a towed hydroacoustic side vision system TOWCA and a new dipping sonar ISSS. The company has also provided for the integration of the mine action system on the 12700 "Alexander Obukhov" sea-minesweeper, delivered by the Russian Navy at the end of 2016.

 

Another major French company, Thales Alenia Space (TAS), which is one of the world's leading manufacturers of satellites, payload modules and equipment for space vehicles, continued to work with Russia. On 6 February 2018, Russian edition of YarNovosti reported that PJSC “Yaroslavl Radio Plant” was visited by a delegation of TAS specialists.

 

The plant is preparing to release the first space products for this French company. As early as 2016 TAS became interested in assembling payload modules on the Yaroslavl enterprise, which wanted to receive orders for the development of space equipment. However, back then, something did not work out. The French, it seems, did not give up. 

 

According to Sergei Yakushev, the director general of the “Yaroslavl Radio Plant”, his enterprise together with the French, for several years (including during the Ukrainian-Russian war) have been producing equipment in line with the requirements of the European Organization for Standardization in Space Activities (ECSS). The main issues for discussions during the February three-day visit were schedules and road maps of joint projects, as well as a sight visit along the route of the technological production cycle of joint ventures.

 

It is obvious that Russia will use this foreign know-how to increase its own military potential. The leadership of Thales and even officials in Paris should know this. Moreover, the peaceful space for Russia has always remained peaceful only on paper. In addition, it should be recalled that the “Yaroslavl Radio Factory” is the leading Russian manufacturer of professional radio communications equipment for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

 

 

Italy

 

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The cooperation of the Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland with Russian companies, in creating the assembly of medium helicopters AW189 has not stopped, on the contrary, it is to expand. 

 

The Kazan Helicopter Plant (KVZ) will be joining the assembly process of HeliVert, which is jointly owned by “Helicopters of Russia” and “Leonardo Helicopters”. As far as we know, the production will be adjusted according to the principle of a screwdriver, meaning the machines will be assembled from the ready-made units.

 

Design works are planned for 2019, purchase of equipment and manufacturing of tooling for 2020-2021. In 2021, the line will be put into pilot production mode, and in 2022 it will be brought into a project mode. In general, it is assumed that from 2022, the KVZ will assemble ten AW189 per year. The project is scheduled until 2025. The helicopters assembled in Kazan will be designed for Rosneft, which plans to create a fleet of at least one hundred sixty AW189. So far Rosneft has placed an order with AgustaWestland for 30 such helicopters. The first 13 boards should be assembled in Italy at the facilities of Leonardo Helicopters (two of them have already been delivered to the customer), the remaining 17 - in Russia. In 2015, it was reported about the imminent completion of the assembly of four more machines. As of May 2016, 10 helicopters of this type were assembled in Italy, commissioned by Rosneft.

 

Rome seems to believe that the assembly of these machines will not make it possible for the Russian Federation to ‘borrow’ new technologies from the helicopter industry and use them in the production of its own military equipment, for example in the Ansat, Mi-38 or other, more specialized helicopters ...

A very funny situation is the supply and assembly of Italian armoured vehicles Iveco LMV "Lynx" in Russia. In 2011, the Ministry of Defense of Russia concluded a contract for the assembly of 1,775 “Lynx” vehicles and expressed the desire to acquire a fleet of 3,000 cars of this type. To date, more than 100 Iveco units have been assembled in the Russian Federation, 57 of them - at the facilities of the enterprise in Voronezh. Since 2013, KAMAZ in Naberezhnye Chelny, became Iveco's technology partner in the production of armoured vehicles "Lynx".

 

However, if the military-technical cooperation between Italy and the Russian Federation is suspended, according to the officials, then it is not clear where the new vehicles of this type come from in the Russian army. Which components are the "Lynxes" assembled from, if the localization of their production in Russia barely exceeds 50%? And from which secret place, only in April of last year, intelligence units of the Airborne Forces of the Russian Federation received 40 new vehicles of this type?

 

It is unlikely that Russia has learned to produce them completely independently. Certainly, the partners found workarounds after the introduction of sanctions. They have experience in this. For example, in April 2014, Italians had to change the logistics in order to complete the Russian contract. If the LMV cars of the first batch were delivered to Russia on wagons, the second part had to be transported by sea because of the ban on their transportation by some EU countries.

 

 

Austria

 

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Austrians are not far behind Italy and France. In 2010-2011, Russian Ministry of Defence became interested in Diamond DA42 NG aircraft, manufactured by Diamond Aircraft Industries. The plan was to use it as a training aircraft.

 

In 2013, the Ural Works of Civil Aviation (UWCA), where, incidentally, the IAI Searcher, one of which was shot down over Donbas, is assembled received a contract from the Ministry of Defence to create training version of DA42 NG aircraft, designated DA42T.

 

The assembly of DA42T, from Austrian components, at UWCA was to begin in 2015. The complete localisation of its production was planned for 2016. However, this did not happen as planned. In December 2017, during the visit of Deputy Defence Minister, Yury Borisov, to UWCA, it became known that the Defence Ministry has a contract for 35 aircrafts. According to him, in 2017 three units were already delivered, and in 2018 the joint tests will be completed. The plan is to get 17 aircraft this year, and 15 more in 2019.

 

At the same time, the defense department expects to use the DA42T as a platform in other areas, including as a patrol aircraft.

 

Hence, the sanctions did not prevent Austrians from helping Russia to master the production of its aircraft, which will be used by the military.

 

 

Hungary

 

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Hungary is also a violator. On 8 December 2017, reliable publication Jane's Defence Weekly reported that Russia will carry out the overhaul of twelve Mi-24D Hungarian air strike helicopters in the framework of the agreement signed on 31 October last year. In the middle of November, the An-124 aircraft transported a number of ‘crocodiles’ to St. Petersburg. Hungary has about two dozen of Mi-24, but for many years they were unsuitable for flights. For some reason, Budapest started to worry about repairing them only now.

 

Moreover, this is the second major agreement signed with Russia for the restoration of the Hungarian Air Force helicopters. As reported by the Russian edition of Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, following the tender in 2016, the Armed Forces of Hungary signed a contract with the holding company Helicopters of Russia to repair five multipurpose Mi-17 helicopters. The first four were already repaired and delivered to the Kecskemet airbase in May 2017.

 

By signing these contracts, Budapest went against views of Brussels and Washington, as maintenance and major repairs of the Mi-17 and Mi-24 could have been carried out in Poland or the Czech Republic. In addition, it is not yet clear how the refurbished and modernized in Russia machines will perform the tasks in the framework of NATO operations, of which Hungary is a member.

 

 

Bulgaria and Greece

 

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This year Bulgaria also became a violator. With the change of power in Sofia, the defence ministry changed its mind to modernise twelve MiG-29 and three MiG-29UB planes in Poland. Suddenly it turned out that neither Warsaw, with its material and technical base and the experience of restoring these Soviet machines, nor Ukraine, which has been repairing and modernising the MiG-29 for a long time, have the capacity and the right to carry out these works.

 

Apparently, the Kremlin conducted serious ‘work’ in Bulgaria to convince local leadership, in particular, the Vice Minister for National Security Affairs, Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov, that only the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG can repair and modernise these machines.

 

This, of course, is not the case. A significant part of the aircraft repair plants of the Soviet defence industry remained on the territory of Ukraine, and they have every opportunity and right to repair a wide range of Soviet weapons.

 

Nevertheless, after a long tender drama, as well as a lawsuit of the Ukrainian company Ukrinmash, this year it became clear that the Bulgarian authorities still decided to repair and modernize the Mig-29 aircraft in the Russian Federation. In fact, Sofia took a decision that contrasts with the program of the Bulgarian government for the period of 2014-2018, which stipulates for "elimination of dependence, in the sphere of armaments and military equipment, on countries that are not members of NATO and the EU". Sofia has also violated EU requirements regarding military technical cooperation with the Russian Federation.

 

Athens perception of the situation in Ukraine is far from reality. The country's leadership, apparently, adheres to a completely understandable position of protecting its own interests above all. This, however, can only be done without violating the EU sanctions.

 

On 7 February 2017, the Greek Defense Ministry signed contracts with JSC Rosoboronexport for a total cost of 16.6 million euros for technical and service support and the supply of spare parts for Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems that are in service with the Army and Air Forces of Greece - 9K33M2 / M3 "Osa-AK / AKM", 9K331 "Top-M1" and S-300PMU1. The contracts will last three years 2017-2019.

 

 

And the conclusion, Europe?

 

The above examples are the tip of the iceberg. This is just what has become public. It is not known how many such cases are left behind the scenes. However, these cases prove that despite the sanctions, cooperation, including military-technical, between the Russian Federation and several European countries, continues.

 

The usual justifications are numerous: European producers need to expand their markets; some EU states are forced to turn to the Russian Federation for help in repairing and modernizing their Soviet equipment; Europeans cannot ignore Russia, etc. Even so, we are talking about cooperation with a country that ignores the norms of international law and is one of the main destabilizing factors on a global scale.

 

Moreover, as the pressure from sanctions continues to grow, Russia is much more interested in cooperating with Europe. Without it, Russia will not only fail to get the necessary technologies and components, hence making it harder to compete with NATO, but it will also finally withdraw to Asia. Brussels and every European country should realize that the main goal of Putin's activities on the European continent is the disintegration of the EU. Is such trade with Russia worth the risk?

 

Anton Mikhnenko,

Defence Express, Ukraine

 

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