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Russia Obtained Helicopter Parts Made in the Czech Republic Even During the War, Ukrainian Newspaper Claims

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The key components, essential for Russian Mi-8 military helicopters and manufactured by Czech company První brněnská strojírna (PBS) Velká Bíteš, reportedly reached Russia through intermediary companies in Kazakhstan and India following the commencement of the Ukrainian invasion. The Ukrainian news source relies on data from the NGO State Watch, suggesting that the Czech firm may have violated European Union sanctions imposed against Russia.

PBS Velká Bíteš denies the accusations, asserting that the Indian and Kazakh companies purchasing their power units have longstanding relations with the Russian military-industrial complex. The Kyiv Independent suggests the possibility that these intermediary companies may have subsequently resold Czech parts to Russia.

Mi-8 helicopters, utilizing the contested components, have been employed by the Russian military in the conflict in Ukraine. The specific component in question is crucial for initiating the helicopter’s main engine, and Russia lacks domestic production capacity for it. Previously, this component was procured from PBS Bolshoi by the Russian firm Kazan Helicopters.

PBS Velká Bíteš had been active in the Russian market for approximately two decades but had to cease operations due to European sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian NGO State Watch bases its claims on export registers, indicating that the Indian company Space Era Materials and Processes sold 20 key components to Russia over the past two years, amounting to $8.5 million (CZK 190 million). PBS Velká Bíteš denies violating EU sanctions, emphasizing it has no contractual agreement with the Indian company.

Further investigation into serial numbers reveals that 14 out of the 20 parts ended up in Russia were initially sold by the Czech company to other private firms in India and Kazakhstan, as well as the Indian Air Force. The remaining six parts lack specific buyer identification. Analyst Veronika Vellaová from the University of Liege suggests that the Czech firm should ensure its business partners refrain from reselling components to sanctioned entities.


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