Putin’s tanks are patched up with spare parts from washing machines

war in ukraine
Putin’s tanks are patched up with spare parts from washing machines

Tanks of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic

Tanks of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic

© Alexei Alexandrov / dpa

Ukrainian specialists found parts of household appliances in Russian tanks. The United States sees this as a success of the latest sanctions – in truth, another reason may have led to cooking technology in T-tanks.

US sanctions are taking effect. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo thinks so. She told a Senate hearing that Russia needed 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 technology exports to Russia have fallen nearly 70% since sanctions began in late February. Other countries have also joined the sanctions. “Our approach was to deny Russian 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 halt production due to component shortages.

Fresh off the assembly line

In fact, history should be described as an anecdote, at least as far as the effectiveness of sanctions is concerned. Because these sanctions have only been in effect since Putin invaded Ukraine. The tanks, whose cogs would be studded with washing machine semiconductors because of the sanctions, should have rolled off the assembly line. Or it could just be semiconductors that are highly isolated from repairs.

It is unlikely that the parts were soldered from household appliances. It is more likely that the Russian arms industry used Western semiconductors even before the war in Ukraine. These were then supposed to be imported for civilian equipment, but in fact incorporated into tanks and armaments. The sanctions are definitely effective: Russia will no longer be able to import kitchen electronics. The shortage of semiconductors is likely to cause great difficulties for the Russian defense industry.

Undermine old sanctions

This conversion would be another reason for the quality problems of the Russian army. In general, the quality requirements for household appliances are much lower than for military use, with its much more difficult operating conditions. A dishwasher is not made to operate smoothly at ambient temperatures between minus 30 degrees and plus 40 degrees.

However, kitchen semiconductors also show the difficulties of sanctions if such civilian components can be used militarily. In Ukraine, this has already been seen with drones, which are adopted by the military as an off-the-shelf civilian system and now, instead of spraying fertilizer, drop small bombs. But the powerful central control units of modern cars or game consoles could also be used for military purposes.

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