US sanctions and export controls imposed at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and designed to cripple its economy are starting to have an impact on Russian battlefield operations.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondi, in two congressional hearings this week, told lawmakers that Russia has been using semiconductors from dishwashers and refrigerators for its military equipment.
“Our approach was to deny Russia technology, technology that would undermine its ability to continue a military operation. And that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Raimondi said Wednesday.
She said she has heard anecdotes from the Ukrainian prime minister that some of the Russian equipment left behind contains kitchenware semiconductors because the defense industrial base is having a hard time producing more chips on its own and faces export controls that limit its capacity. to import technology from other countries.
Export controls and sanctions have impacted other parts of the weapons industry, according to Raimondi, who said two Russian tank-making plants had recently closed, and many Russian automakers laid off workers.
A senior defense official also told reporters earlier this week that sanctions on Russia are starting to affect Russia’s ability to resupply its munitions as well.
“We know this – that sanctions are responsible – for making it more difficult for Putin to replenish these stockpiles, particularly when it comes to some of the electronic components that go into precision-guided munitions,” the official said.
Precision guided munitions, according to the Congressional Research Service, use GPS, laser guidance or inertial navigation systems to hone in on the intended target and minimize damage to other structures.
A low stockpile of precision-guided munitions may explain why the Russians are increasingly relying on “stupid bombs”, particularly in the city of Mariupol. Considered “dumb” because they are not precisely guided, these bombs are less discriminated.
The Russians also used hypersonic weapons in the war in Ukraine, andagainst the type of target they are is because they are quickly analyzing their precision guided munitions inventory.
A senior defense official said this week that the Russians dropped about 10 to 12 hypersonic weapons on Ukraine over the course of the invasion.
But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, said the way the Russians are using hypersonics hasn’t given them much of an edge on the battlefield so far.
“But aside from the speed of the weapon in terms of its effect on a given target, we’re not seeing really significant or revolutionary effects so far with the delivery of the small number of hypersonics that the Russians used,” Milley said. .