WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced a round of criminal charges and sanctions over a complex scheme to procure military technology from U.S. manufacturers and illegally supply Russia for use in the war in Ukraine.
The Justice Department said some of the equipment was recovered on the Ukrainian battlefield, while other proliferation technology was intercepted in Latvia before being shipped to Russia.
The Justice Department indicted nine people in separate cases in New York and Connecticut, as well as two oil brokers in Venezuela. The defendants are accused of obtaining military technology from U.S. 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 facilitating illegal oil deals for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.
“As I said, our investigators and prosecutors will work tirelessly to identify, locate and bring to justice those whose unlawful actions undermine the rule of law and allow the Russian regime to continue its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Attorney General Merrick Gard said. Lan said in a statement.
The five defendants charged in New York are all Russian nationals, and two of them have been arrested. All four defendants in the Connecticut case — three Latvians and one Ukrainian — were detained months ago at the request of U.S. authorities.
The criminal charges are in addition to the latest round of sanctions against Russia by the Biden administration.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced Wednesday sanctions against a man charged by the Justice Department, designating Yury Orekhov and his two companies, Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH and Opus Energy Trading LLC, for procuring advanced semiconductor and microprocessor fighter jets and Ballistic and hypersonic missile systems and other military applications.
Orekhov and the companies ultimately sent the material to Russian end users, including companies designated by various federal agencies, in violation of U.S. export controls.
The Justice Department, the FBI, and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control worked together to identify the Russian network.
In addition to imposing sanctions on members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, the United States has frozen funds in Russia’s central bank and imposed aggressive export controls.
The latest effort is aimed at blocking Russian purchases of military technology.
In a statement Wednesday, Treasury Undersecretary Valli Adejemo said it was becoming increasingly difficult for Russia to acquire the technology needed to sustain the war, “thanks to unprecedented efforts by our broad coalition of partners and allies. Sanctions and export controls.”
“We know these efforts are having a direct impact on the battlefield,” he said, “as Russia’s desperation leads them to turn to inferior suppliers and outdated equipment.”
Russia has lost more than 6,000 pieces of equipment since the war began in late February and is seeking supplies from Iran and North Korea, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told the Treasury Department on Friday.
The ODNI said Russia is dependent on foreign production of machinery, while ongoing bank sanctions have hampered the Kremlin’s ability to obtain financing for imported military equipment.