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Latest round of EU sanctions hits Russian defense industry supplier uncovered by The Insider in recent investigation

The European Union has imposed its 13th package of sanctions against Russia. The latest round of restrictions includes figures exposed by The Insider's investigations, as well as a company that helped Russian defense contractors purchase European military equipment.

Sergei Pitikov was exposed in an investigation into how Russian missile manufacturers have escaped sanctions and continue to receive equipment and components from Europe. Mr. Pitikov heads the Machine-Building Design Bureau Corporation (KBM), which is part of High Precision Systems, a group of companies within the Rostec Corporation. KBM produces Iskander and Kinzhal missiles, both of which are used by Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine.

LLC Sonatek — a company featured in two of The Insider's investigations — was also included in the sanctions list. This Moscow-based firm wasn’t just involved in government purchases from Kinzhal manufacturers — it also supplied measurement equipment to dozens of other defense contractors. The company was used to procure equipment from European countries. Sonatek's European trading partners include UAB Breitto (Lithuania), Baltic Shipping Agency LTD Sp. z o.o. (Poland), UAB “CUST LT” (Lithuania), Hermis Ekspo SIA (Latvia), Groupe D'Investissement Financier SA (Belgium), Aberlink Ltd (UK), Tomelleri Engineering (Italy), as well as multiple others.

Sonatek is run by the family of Viktor Labin, a Russian GRU agent based in Brussels. The Labins have set up shop right next door to the headquarters of the European Commission and NATO and were actively involved in reselling foreign machine tools from Belgium to Russia.

Although Russian government defense contracts have been classified in recent years, The Insider has information that Sonatek provided supply and maintenance services to at least 18 Russian defense companies in 2022. Russia has not been able to establish import substitution for various types of equipment, so the Russian military-industrial complex is vitally dependent on imported products supplied by Sonatek.

JSC Zavod No. 9 (lit. “Plant No. 9”) has also been sanctioned. The company, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Rostec defense corporation, is responsible for producing barrel artillery systems. Its main products include guns for T-72 and T-90 tanks. There have also been reports of the plant's production of guns for the Armata, but so far this much-publicized tank is more of a PR project than a real force.

The Insider wrote about Zavod No. 9 in an investigation into how Western companies — based in Italy, Germany, Estonia, Austria, the U.S., and Finland, among others — continue to supply Russian defense contractors with the inputs they need to continue making weapons.

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