Russia-bounded drones. A team of US investigators had landed in the major Italian port of Gioia Tauro to follow up on the investigation that ensued in July when the Italian Border Police seized a shipment of containers carrying Russia-bound reconnaissance drones, as reported by Repubblica.
- US investigators will closely collaborate with Italian Guardia di Finanza and chief public prosecutor Mr Emanuele Crescenti.
- Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also involved in the matter
Secretly importing Western weapons. As noted by Decode39 in mid-May 2022 the Kremlin eventually took a chance at importing US-made military components through a complex triangulation involving Italy as a step before Russia, even though it is not yet clear which would have been the next stop in between.
- Ship containers left Canada to arrive at Gioia Tauro, and the official destination was Qatar. Still, investigators think the ship would have eventually turned the GPS off and headed incognito to Syria.
- The country hosts the Russian military base of Tartus, Moscow’s most important outlet on the Mediterranean Sea, from which the drones could have been sent to Russia via cargo planes.
Moscow’s dire need of technology. Russia is in desperate need of advanced equipment, especially when it comes to drones. Under the western-led sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the country has been severely lacking in basic military-grade electronics like transistors, transformers, and microchips for years.
- Moscow had to resort to Teheran, which began supplying Shahed-136 drones to the Russian Army to be used in the Ukrainian conflict. That is, per se, a sign of weakness, as a supposedly Great Power like Russia has to rely on an external partner for a critical weapon system.
- As the Times report, the Russian Federation is now apparently stockpiling refrigerators, washing machines and electrical components, disassembling them, and using the parts to build war equipment.
- Most neighbouring countries like Armenia and Kazakhstan, close Russian allies, increased their imports of electric breast pumps respectively by three and seven times in the last year, vis-à-vis a dramatic downfall of fertility rates.