Two Kansas men have been arrested by the Justice Department on charges of illegally exporting aviation-related technology to Russia and providing repair services for the equipment. Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Robertson, who owned and operated KanRus Trading Co., are accused of conspiring to evade U.S. export laws by concealing and misstating the true end users and destinations of their exports and by shipping equipment through third-party countries. They face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
The charges against Buyanovsky and Robertson come as the U.S. has dramatically increased sanctions and financial penalties on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. Export controls on the Kremlin have been put in place to limit access to computer chips and other products needed to equip a modern military.
According to the Justice Department, the two men allegedly supplied aircraft electronics to Russian companies and provided repair services for equipment used in Russian-manufactured aircraft. They are charged with conspiracy, exporting controlled goods without a license, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information, and smuggling goods in violation of U.S. law.
Lawyers for Buyanovsky and Robertson were not immediately identified from the provided documents, and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for their information.
The FBI and the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement are investigating the case. Matthew S. Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, recently stated that state actors like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are trying to take advantage of rapid advances in technology. He added that sensitive technologies being sent to these countries are top of their list from an enforcement perspective.
U.S. officials have pledged to increase enforcement and sanctions on people and entities that assist Russia in the procurement of weaponry and technology that would bolster its military, particularly since the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The case highlights the ongoing tension between the U.S. and Russia over the latter’s aggressive military actions in the region. As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in warfare, countries like the U.S. are taking steps to limit the flow of sensitive technologies to adversaries like Russia and others.
In addition to the potential legal consequences for the two individuals involved in this case, the incident also has broader implications for U.S. national security and foreign policy. As state actors continue to engage in illicit activities like smuggling, the U.S. will need to remain vigilant in its efforts to protect sensitive technologies and limit their spread.