June 02, 2022

Can Russia Rebuild Its Tech Sector with China's Help?

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks.

The far-reaching export controls the United States and others imposed in response to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine were meant to have long-term erosive effects, but their impact on Russia has already been tangible. This is particularly true in the semiconductor sector. Moscow’s attempts to kick-start homegrown production of semiconductors and electronic components, which started in 2021, have unsurprisingly produced meager results, and the Western technology required to launch an indigenous chip sector is now further out of reach. China will thus play a crucial role in the future of Russia’s tech sector, but a complicated one. While China’s geopolitical sympathies lie with Russia, active support would likely run afoul of the allied export controls and put China’s own chip ambitions at risk.

China will play a crucial role in the future of Russia’s tech sector, but a complicated one.

In the first wave of sanctions after Feb. 24, the United States and more than 30 other countries introduced sweeping export controls on strategic technology items to Russia, including semiconductors, information-security and telecommunications systems, electronics, and computers. While Western nations already heavily restricted the export of military or dual-use technology to Russia, the new measures broke fresh ground in the use of export controls as a sanctioning instrument. Before the invasion, export controls were primarily used as an arms-control instrument. Russia is a participant in the multilateral Wassenaar Arrangement, a voluntary, consensus-based agreement among 42 members that was established in 1996 to set export controls on dual-use technology as part of a broader post-Cold War order. Now, export controls have been used to degrade the ability of a single country to project military power, marking a generational change in the use of this instrument.

Read the full article from War on the Rocks.

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