The Daily Telegraph

Russia hunts microchips from buyer of UK factory

Welsh plant that makes semiconduc­tors could be on Kremlin ‘shopping list’, warns Kyiv intelligen­ce

- By Matthew Field and Tom Rees

RUSSIA is hunting for Western semiconduc­tors built by the Chinese-backed owner of Welsh factory Newport Wafer Fab as it seeks to restock critical hi-tech components for its war machine.

Ukrainian intelligen­ce has warned Vladimir Putin’s regime is desperatel­y seeking chip technology built by European and American companies, Politico reported.

Parts on Russia’s “shopping list” are said to include microchips, diodes and transistor­s built by Dutch company Nexperia, which is owned by Chinese company Wingtech, according to a procuremen­t document seen by Politico.

Other components on the list include chips made by US companies such as Texas Instrument­s and parts sourced from German and Taiwanese firms.

The Sunday Telegraph reported last month that components made by Nexperia had been discovered in a Russian missile recovered from the battlefiel­d by researcher­s at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi).

The chip manufactur­ers are not accused of wrongdoing, but Moscow could try to access their technology through intermedia­ries or by recycling chips stripped from non-military technology. Nexperia bought Welsh chip plant Newport Wafer Fab last year, a deal which is currently subject to a national security investigat­ion.

A Nexperia spokesman said none of the components identified by Politico is manufactur­ed in the UK and said its components were not made for military use.

The spokesman said: “Nexperia utterly condemns Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, we support and have abided by all internatio­nal sanctions. We have no Russian customers and do not sell into Russia.

“Unfortunat­ely, like other chip companies, we have seen incidents of our products being used in military applicatio­ns for which our chips were neither developed nor sold, including in Russia where we do not even do business.”

The spokesman said Nexperia would cease business with any customer it found to have violated sanctions.

Denys Shmyhal, the prime minister of Ukraine, told Politico that Moscow was running low on critical weapons and had just “four dozen” hypersonic missiles left in its arsenal.

He said: “These are the ones that have precision accuracy due to the microchips that they have. But because of sanctions imposed on Russia, the deliveries of this high-tech microchip equipment have stopped and they have no way of replenishi­ng these stocks.”

Joe Byrne, a researcher at Rusi, said Western strategy was not to stop every black market shipment of chips, but to “raise the cost and slow procuremen­t” and make it impossible to restock Russia’s war supplies with chips.

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