NOS . News•
Dutch high-tech companies unknowingly sell their technology to companies founded by the GRU. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense after statements about this by Jan Sullins, head of the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD). The FD warns that the Dutch high-tech sector is inadvertently supplying the critical building blocks of Ukraine’s war machine in this way.
According to Suelens, Russian intelligence created dozens of companies operating in the Netherlands as “front companies” to evade Western sanctions. He says these companies buy technology here and then smuggle it to Russia for military purposes.
According to the director of the MIVD, these kinds of practices have been occurring since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. “But with the war in Ukraine, they are increasing dramatically,” he says in the FD. Swillens invites Dutch high-tech companies to conduct more comprehensive research on their customers and inquire about the actual end users of their products.
The Interior Ministry had already informed Defense Minister Olungren a few months ago about the smuggling routes, according to Sullins in the newspaper. He says he is now making it public to educate companies about the risks.
In its response, the Ministry of Defense said that the Ministry of Interior itself does not have the authority to stop attempts to circumvent the sanctions. If military intelligence suspects that a company is indirectly dealing with Russia, it can involve other organizations, such as customs or the ministries of economic and foreign affairs. They can then take action with the high-tech companies involved.
The defense asserts that Dutch companies and entrepreneurs themselves also bear a responsibility. They can report suspicions of Russian smuggling attempts, for example, the so-called Russian Sanctions Office of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
The Dutch high-tech sector can position itself among the top global companies, with big names such as NXP and ASML. According to FD, the products are mainly exported with civilian and military applications. In addition to microchips, this also concerns vehicle parts, communications equipment and marine technology. The Netherlands has a multibillion-dollar industry in these areas, the paper writes, including Akzo and VDL.
The head of MIVD Swillens at the FD did not mention the companies involved in the deals with the subsidiaries of Russia.
Experts in the newspaper stress that Russian interest in Dutch-made technology should not be underestimated. According to security consultant Danny Pronk, who previously worked for MIVD and AIVD, advanced Dutch infrared technology and sensors are of interest to the Kremlin, among other things. He says it is used to command and control ships. The Dutch branch of the French high-tech company Thales is active in this field.
Ben de Jong, a researcher in the intelligence services at Leiden University, talks in a fd about the “great naivety” of the Netherlands. “A lot of people don’t understand that the Russians want to spy here. Also remember that as a country in NATO we have a lot of knowledge about the Americans and other allies.”
At the end of March, the Netherlands expelled seventeen Russian diplomats because they were found to be active here as spies for the Russian intelligence services. Recently, it was searched by NOS and news hour Seeing spies engaged in coding secret messages, counter-espionage, and gathering information on computer chips for the Russian army.
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