By ERIC TUCKER and FATIMA HUSSEIN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Wednesday a round of criminal charges and penalties related to a complicated scheme to acquire military technologies from American manufacturers and illegally supply them to Russia for its war in Ukraine.
Some of the equipment was recovered on battlefields in Ukraine, the Justice Department said, and other nuclear proliferation technology was intercepted in Latvia before it could be shipped to Russia.
The Justice Department charged nine people in separate cases in New York and Connecticut, as well as two oil brokers from Venezuela. The defendants are accused of acquiring the military technology from US companies and then laundering tens of millions of dollars for wealthy Russian businessmen and other sanctioned entities. Some of the defendants are also accused of brokering illicit oil deals for the Venezuelan state oil company.
“As I have said, our investigators and prosecutors will be tireless in their efforts to identify, locate and bring to justice those whose illegal acts undermine the rule of law and allow the Russian regime to continue its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” he said. the Attorney General. Merrick Garland said in a statement.
The five defendants charged in New York are all Russian citizens and two have been arrested. The four defendants in the Connecticut case, three Latvians and a Ukrainian, were detained months ago at the request of US authorities.
The criminal charges complement the Biden administration’s latest round of sanctions against Russia.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions Wednesday against one of the men indicted by the Justice Department, designating Yury Orekhov and two of his firms, Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH and Opus Energy Trading LLC, for acquiring advanced semiconductors and microprocessors used in combat aircraft and ballistic and hypersonic missile systems, among other military uses.
Orekhov and the companies ultimately shipped the materials to Russian end users, including companies designated by various federal agencies, in violation of US export controls.
The Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control worked in coordination to identify the Russian network.
Along with sanctions on members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, the United States has frozen Russian Central Bank funds and imposed aggressive export controls.
The latest effort is dedicated to preventing Russia from acquiring military technologies.
Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement Wednesday that Russia has increasingly struggled to obtain the technologies it needs to sustain the war “thanks to unprecedented sanctions and export controls imposed by our broad coalition of partners.” and allies.”
“We know these efforts are having a direct effect on the battlefield,” he said, “as Russia’s desperation has led them to turn to inferior suppliers and outdated equipment.”
Information from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, filed Friday at the Treasury Department, says Russia has lost more than 6,000 pieces of equipment since the start of the war in late February and is turning to Iran and North Korea for of supplies.
Russia relies on foreign-produced machinery and ongoing banking sanctions have undermined the Kremlin’s ability to obtain financing for the import of military equipment, the ODNI said.
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