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Taiwan reportedly continues to supply machinery to Russia for weapons production

Taiwan reportedly continues to supply machinery to Russia for weapons production Illustrative photo (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

After the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan has become the most important supplier of metalworking machinery to Russia, essential for weapon production, according to a joint investigation by the Taiwanese news agency The Reporter and the Russian outlet The Insider.

It is noted that Germany, Japan, and Switzerland have exited the Russian market, and Chinese machines are not of sufficient quality. Therefore, Taiwanese machining centers, lathes, and electrical discharge machines meet the needs of the Russian defense industry.

The machines are indispensable in the production of detonators, precision weapons, and other military products. Sanctions imposed by Taiwan do not help, as the machines are sent to Russia through Türkiye and other countries, and some types of machines are not subject to restrictions.

Metalworking equipment, such as machining centers, lathes, and electrical discharge machines, is a crucial part of Taiwanese exports. Russia is one of its key partners.

Türkiye aids Russia in circumventing sanctions

Nearly 80% of comprehensive metalworking machinery produced in Taiwan and sent to Russia is transshipped through third countries, with Türkiye and China leading among them. According to Russian customs data, from March to September 2023, Russia imported at least 193 machining centers of Taiwanese production worth almost $29 million.

"If we look only at the data on transit through Türkiye, the situation seems even more alarming: as of September 2023, almost half of the machines imported by Russia from Turkey were manufactured in Taiwan," the material writes.

Why these machines are crucial

Most of the machines for the high-precision technologies necessary for the military are produced in the EU, Switzerland, Japan, and the USA.

However, Taiwan also has good analogs. They manufacture high-precision wire-cut electrical discharge machines, cylindrical grinding and profile grinding machines, thread grinding machines, and gear grinding machines, as well as longitudinal turning machines and vertical turning machining centers.

"Taiwanese machines often outperform Chinese ones in precision, which is crucial for arms production, and if spare parts stop coming to Russia, the machines' operation will quickly stop," an expert said in a comment to The Insider.

Russia circumvents sanctions

In early January, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Russia had learned to bypass Western sanctions imposed against Moscow for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Politico also reported that Russia was largely succeeding in bypassing sanctions in the technology sector. This enabled Moscow to produce weapons and continue the war against Ukraine.

Recently, five countries, together with European law enforcement agencies, uncovered a network through which Russia evaded export sanctions. As a result of the operation, three people were arrested.