The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) reported on 4 February that it had seized a shipment of microchips that were intercepted during a failed attempt to smuggle them across the border into Russia.
These microelectronic components are produced by Ukrainian defence electronics enterprises and at present, there are no analogous substitutes for them manufactured in Russia. The operation to stop the shipment before it reached the Russian border was a joint effort between the SBU, the successor agency to what was the KGB during the Soviet era, and the Ukrainian Border Guards and Customs Service.
According to an official statement issued by the SBU, the microchips are used in the production of ballistic missile and space launch booster rockets. The components were hidden inside a Russian-designed 4x4 vehicle among a load of commercially available consumer automotive and electronics products.
The seizure was made in the Volchanskiy district of the Kharkov region: part of Ukraine not far from the armed conflicts taking place in the eastern Donbass area. The driver was reportedly attempting to cross the border into Russia at an uncontrolled intersection in order to avoid officially passing through a customs checkpoint. The officers inspecting the vehicle reported that the microchips, along with some welding equipment, had a value of approximately UAH170,000 (USD6,500).
specialists who examined the shipment found that the components "are all categorised as military-use items that cannot be transported internationally without an official licence issued from the Ukrainian State Service for Export Control". The SBU has also opened an investigation into what appears to be the illegal production of these microchips under Article 1 Section 333 of the Ukrainian criminal code.
Since the invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and Moscow's subsequent interventions in the Donbass regions of Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, there has been an embargo on the export of all military and dual-use items to Russia.