On Thursday, two men from Kansas were arrested on charges of illegally exporting “sophisticated” aviation technology to Russia and providing repair services for the equipment.
In violation of U.S. law, Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Robertson have been charged with conspiracy, exporting controlled goods without a licence, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information, and smuggling goods.
While the U.S. has been increasing its sanctions and financial penalties against Russia since its invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, the charges have only just emerged. Export controls on the Kremlin are meant to limit access to computer chips and other products needed to equip a modern military, and are just one of many thousands of sanctions against individuals and companies.
According to the Justice Department, Buyanovsky and Robertson ran KanRus Trading Co., which they used to sell and repair electronics for Russian aircraft manufacturers.
According to the indictment, the defendants have been plotting to circumvent U.S. export laws since at least 2020 by shipping equipment through third countries and failing to disclose the true end users and destinations of their exports.
To a customer in Russia, Robertson allegedly wrote in April 2022, “things are complicated in the USA” and “[t]his is NOT the right time for [more paperwork and visibility].” For the next three months after that, the Justice Department claims the defendants shipped avionics through Armenia and Cyprus en route to Russia without proper documentation.
If found guilty, they could spend up to 35 years behind bars. The documents did not reveal the names of Buyanovsky and Robertson’s attorneys, and the Justice Department did not respond quickly to a request for that information.
The case is being looked into by the FBI and the Office of Export Enforcement in the Commerce Department.
Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Bureau of Industry and Security, Matthew S. Axelrod, spoke at an American Bar Association event in Miami on Thursday, stating that state actors like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are attempting to “take advantage of rapid advances in technology,” and that the Commerce Department is placing a high priority on preventing the export of sensitive technologies to these nations.
U.S. officials have stated that they will increase enforcement and sanctions against individuals and organisations that aid Russia in acquiring weaponry and technology that would strengthen Russia’s military since the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.