Eight cardboard packages were collected on August 24 by a German tanker from Dmitry K. , a Russian-Dutch who lives with his wife and young children in a quiet new housing estate in Gorsel, Gelderland. The truck took them to a warehouse near Hamburg Airport. The destination on the parcel was Maldives. But they will never get there.
On Tuesday, K. should represent. Back in court in Rotterdam again for the third pre-trial hearing in the first and only case before a Dutch court for sanctions violations since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The packages contain, among other things, transistors, computer chips and parts from Chinese drones, according to export documents prepared by K. Things that will eventually end up in Russia, perhaps via one of the Baltic states.
About the author
Michael Pearson is an economics reporter and commentator De Volkskrant, focusing on the war in Ukraine. As a reporter in America, he was awarded the Teagle Award for Journalism.
The grass is no longer mowed
This has been prohibited since European sanctions came into effect last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, it is clear that K. He realized that he was doing something impermissible: it was not for nothing that he had falsified the final destination. This is why he was accused of forgery.
Whether K will report to court on Tuesday is highly questionable. Locals say he left in February with his family in a fully packed car. After that he was never seen again. According to some, he is with his mother in Moscow. The house appears empty, the toys and children’s coats are gone from the hallway and coat racks, and the lawn has not been mowed in ages.
K. was released. From remand in December after the first hearing. The judge considered the flight risk minimal and decided to release him without additional conditions. This means that he can travel wherever he wants, including abroad. It must appear at every session.
But whether or not he will do so, his lawyer, Christian Visser, cannot say. Visser also did not comment on the case. “The customer does not cooperate with anything.”
The Public Prosecution office arrested K. in September, and two months later obtained permission to check his phone and computer. And from this a rather detailed indictment was drawn, on the basis of which this newspaper made the reconstruction in February.
Former KGB comrade
In general terms: K., who has been living in the Netherlands for several decades and has traded with Russia through his company Woerd-Tech for a few years, is said to have been controlled by Alexej Belosochov, the purchasing director of the Russian company SPS. That company would receive a special license from Russia’s FSB secret service to supply equipment to Rostec, a consortium of hundreds of high-tech and defense firms that have all been state-owned since 2008. They’re led by a former KGB friend of Vladimir Putin since he was in Dresden.
But what exactly was exported from K., and in what way, it is not yet clear. From the Russian import database that De Volkskrant I realized that since April 2022 things have been worth around 250,000 euros, including parts from Chinese drone manufacturer DJI. It also seems that “diodes used in radio electronic equipment” have moved to Russia from the Dutch company NXP Semiconductors.
“Unfortunately, our efforts alone cannot prevent our products from reaching places and applications for which they were not intended,” says NXP. The company has severed all business ties with Russia, but says it cannot prevent distributors and other customers from reselling the items to another end user.
Incidentally, it was only a small load of diodes (a few dozen’s worth), and the Russian overview of smuggled Woerd-Tech also includes semiconductors from other major suppliers such as Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, Infineon, and TDK. K. apparently bought them all over the world and shipped them from Gorssel to Russia in cardboard boxes.
Hamburg as a centre
According to Russian customs information, those operations ended up in Moscow with Telekommunikationsye Technologii and R&D Centrum TechnoAvtomatika — two intermediaries whose goal may be to accommodate potential sanctions without affecting the end user. TechnoAvtomatika is owned by oligarch Andrei Molchanov, a protégé of Putin’s former president in St. Petersburg (and owner of the Moscow plot on which American developer Donald Trump planned to build a hotel in 2015). The United States has already imposed sanctions on Molchanov, and therefore he is untouchable.
Hamburg appears to be an important center for smuggling. In the event of recent suspicions of sanctions violations, the transfer was supposed to take place via the German port city. Greek company Nikos B., owner of Dutch company Aratos BV, arrested last week in Paris, is said to have supplied Russian customers with military and “dual-use” goods, according to the (US) indictment, without telling the manufacturers. “The materials were sent from Holland to a carrier in Hamburg, which was often used to ship goods to Russia.”
It is said that b. and his German conveyor were part of the so-called Cernia network, named after an engineering firm in Moscow, which was an important procurement center for Russia’s war machine. In December, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States arrested two of the Americans involved. In Estonia, a Russian, possibly an FSB officer, was arrested while trying to cross the border into Russia. He, too, will be part of this network. He was carrying 35 semiconductors and thousands of rounds for Nebraska sniper rifles. The men charged also worked with Greek Nikos B., who operates from the Netherlands, according to the FBI.
Always green light
The lawsuits are far more concrete than the accusations against the Dutchman who was placed on the US sanctions list last week, Edwin Ono van Ingen of Hellegum. The Americans accuse him of shipping equipment with nuclear applications to Russia on behalf of the Russian intelligence services. But no case has been filed against him, he is not a suspect. Van Ingen thinks it is side effects He is. I have always applied for export permits. Even when the Russians asked if I could provide SSD cards, I first asked the State Department if it was possible. I always get the green light. And since the war I have not supplied anything to Russia, not even by other means, although they asked me to do so.
In any case, it appears that the Russians have been working with a large number of dealers and brokers for years, by buying networks that exist alongside each other. If the link falls for any reason, there is always someone else who can take over. Many of the smugglers look like petty calligraphers who can easily be replaced. And if the buyer has already been caught – like Dmitry K. Other parts of transportation logistics often remain intact. Like his connection to Hamburg.
‘it’s not my business’
Because the Hamburg shipping company that received and sent the eight packages from Dmitri K. In August still working. The owner, Martin Wolfram, says he doesn’t know about these packages—although his company’s name, DRAW, is on export models.
He does not want to say how his transport routes from Hamburg are generally going. “This is a trade secret. Things have to go from A to B, and I’m going to make sure that goes by the best route. He doesn’t know who could have changed the destination of the Maldives in Moscow. He says he doesn’t care where things end up.” The final destination of my shipments is not of my business.”
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