The United States has charged five Russians and two other Americans with conspiracy over certain purchases and with money laundering on behalf of the government in Moscow.
The Justice Department said it suspected the defendants of attempting to obtain dual-use and military technologies from US companies for the Russian defense sector.
It is also believed that the defendants conspired to smuggle sniper ammunition in violation of US sanctions against Russia.
One of the Russians is believed to be an FSB officer.
Neither the suspects nor the Russian government have yet commented on the investigation. Three of the group were taken into custody, and four of the Russians remain at large.
The US Department of Justice said in a statement that a 16-count indictment was filed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court in New York City.
The indictment states that the defendants illegally purchased and exported highly sensitive and strictly regulated electronic components, some of which could be used in the development of nuclear weapons, hypersonic weapons, supercomputers, and other military applications.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said his department and America’s international partners “will not tolerate criminal schemes to advance the Russian military’s war effort.” This is a reference to the massive invasion of Ukraine launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24.
“With three of the defendants now in custody, we have been able to disrupt the procurement network that the defendants and the Russian intelligence community are said to have used to smuggle sniper rifle ammunition and sensitive electronic components into Russia,” Garland said.
The indictment named all five defendants, including a suspected FSB officer, Vadim Konoshinok, 48. He is under arrest in Estonia, and a US extradition request has been filed for him.
The indictment said Konoshinok, who hails from St. Petersburg, Russia, “would have shipped or actively smuggled US-originated goods from Estonia to Russia, including dual-use electronics, military-grade tactical ammunition and other export-controlled items.”
If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison.
The indictment stated that the defendants are: Russians Yevgeny Grinin, Alexei Ippolitov, Boris Livshits and Svetlana Skvortsova, and Americans Alexei Braiman and Vadim Yermolenko.