China has effectively joined Western sanctions against Russia by refusing to supply domestic computer chips required by Russia for its military equipment, it has emerged.
Russia’s military industry is facing fresh difficulties, and the Kremlin’s hopes that Beijing would help the country circumvent Western sanctions have not materialized, with Chinese authorities refusing to supply Loongson processors to Moscow, according to the pro-Kremlin Russian publication, Kommersant.
Loongson chips are the Chinese equivalent of U.S. processors from Intel and AMD. While two to three years behind the latest models from U.S. manufacturers, these chips are still powerful enough to be used by the military. For Russia, whose military-industrial complex has been cut off from Western technologies because of sanctions, Loongson could have been a lifesaver, but this has failed to materialize.
Citing Russian government sources, the publication noted that some Russian manufacturers had high hopes for Loongson chips and even tested them. Now, however, they have lost access to critical equipment. Russians still have the possibility to get Loongson chips through the Chinese marketplace AliExpress and others as part of motherboards or laptops.
Of course, acquiring them on an industrial scale this way is impossible and impractical. Moscow still hopes to obtain these Chinese processors under the so-called “grey import” procedure. However, this method has many disadvantages, the main one being the high cost of procurement.
Russia needs the chips to produce missiles. In November, Washington already blocked the “grey” supply channel of chips to the Russian Federation, imposing sanctions on intermediary companies that helped the Russian military-industrial complex with equipment.
Since the beginning of the war, Russian troops have reportedly been stealing household appliances from the occupied territories of Ukraine for chips to repair their military equipment.