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Russian troops are resorting to dishwasher and refrigerator parts to fix military equipment—and the U.S. is taking credit

May 12, 2022, 4:08 PM UTC

Russian troops are using parts from dishwashers and refrigerators to fix their broken military equipment in Ukraine, a top U.S. official has said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told lawmakers at a committee hearing on Wednesday that Russian forces were seemingly resorting to dismantling old household appliances in order to mend and maintain their dwindling supply of military hardware.

“We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military equipment on the ground, it’s filled with semiconductors that [Russian troops] took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” she said.

Raimondo said this proved that U.S.-led international export controls, which were depriving Russia of American technology, were having the desired effect of crippling Moscow’s ability to sustain its military operation.

“U.S. exports of technology to Russia have fallen by nearly 70% since we imposed these export controls, and you’re starting to see it,” she told senators. “We see two tank manufacturing facilities have shut; Lada, the auto manufacturer, has furloughed workers and closed down.”

She added, “What we need to do in order to continue this is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. I am deadly serious about enforcing and have been crystal clear, particularly with China, that we won’t tolerate any circumvention of these export controls.”

Heavy equipment losses

Russian forces have failed to achieve many of their key strategic objectives—including the capture of Kyiv and other cities—since Ukraine was invaded on Feb. 24.

Strategic incompetence, combined with outdated military and communications equipment, have contributed to “failure on an awesome scale,” according to the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Russia is thought to have lost more than 2,000 armored vehicles by the end of April, according to U.K. government estimates.  

Meanwhile, Western sanctions have dampened Russia’s ability to replenish its equipment losses, with Russia’s biggest tank manufacturer said to have run out of parts.

Russia’s military hardware has also come under attack by its own side, according to Jeremy Fleming, the head of U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ.

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers—short of weapons and morale—refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment, and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” he said in a speech in March.

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