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Russia easily evades Taiwan sanctions on precision metalworking machines

Despite Taipei's support for Ukraine, equipment used to make military arms reached Moscow through Turkey and China

A worker using a precision metalworking machine. (Pexels, Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz photo)

A worker using a precision metalworking machine. (Pexels, Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite Taiwan imposing sanctions on Russia in 2023 forbidding the export of precision metalworking machines, Russia has been successfully evading the sanctions, with Taiwan still one of Moscow's major sources of machine-making tools.

A report published by The Reporter on Jan. 27 found that the supply of Taiwanese machine products, those used in making weapons and other military supplies, going to Russia has remained steady, despite sanctions. While direct exports have stopped, Russia is easily procuring the equipment through intermediaries in China and Turkey.

Following the outbreak of hostilities between Ukraine and Russia in 2022, Taipei ended the direct export of machine-making equipment to Russia in January 2023. However, between January and October 2023, exports of such equipment to Turkey jumped 45% over the previous year.

The Kyiv Independent, citing the investigative reports, noted that 193 pieces of metalworking machinery made in Taiwan, valued at over US$29 million, found their way to Russia between March and September 2023.

The investigation, simultaneously published by the Russian outlet The Insider, revealed that Moscow relies heavily on Taiwan (and intermediate markets) for the majority of its precision metalworking machines in its ongoing war effort. The large metalworking machines are used to manufacture a variety of military arms, including precision-guided missiles and drone delivery systems.

Despite Taiwan’s staunch support of Ukraine in the war with Russia, the reports that Russia is using Taiwanese equipment in its war effort are concerning for Taiwan and other allies of Kyiv.

According to the report, the primary importer of these machines in Russia is a company called I Machine Technology, and the source of most of its imported machines is a Taiwanese company based in Taichung called I Machine Taiwan, per the Euromaidan Press.