According to an analysis by Nikkei using customs clearance data, Russia is suspected of repurchasing military supplies that were previously shipped to Myanmar and India. The purpose of these repurchases may be to improve older weapons destined for use in Ukraine, with the assistance of countries that have long-standing military ties with Russia.
The United States, European nations, and Japan have banned exports of goods with potential military use to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The analysis revealed records of Russian imports of tank and missile parts from Myanmar and India.
The reimported components are likely intended for the modernization of Russia's aging tank fleet and to address challenges in acquiring optical equipment. Russia's reliance on Western technology for optical equipment has been hampered by trade sanctions. The report also highlighted unusual quantities and references to defective products in the customs data.
The Russian government, UralVagonZavod, and the Defense Ministry of Myanmar did not respond to requests for details. Additionally, the Russian NPK KBM, responsible for missile production, purchased components for night-vision sights for ground-to-air missiles from the Indian Ministry of Defense, possibly for repairs or upgrades.
The records did not indicate the items being returned to India. Russia is one of the world's largest arms exporters, with India being its biggest customer. Buybacks of exported equipment allow Russia to upgrade its older weapons and deploy them in combat.
Efforts to curb military support for Russia and prevent the flow of military equipment to Ukraine require stringent measures and transparency in deals with Russia.