Killjoy alert: Europe keeps supplying equipment and components to Russian missile manufacturers

After the full-scale invasion began, most of Russia’s defense enterprises were hit by Western sanctions, but the contractors of the companies manufacturing the Kinzhal – Kh-47M2, NATO reporting name AS-24 Killjoy, the deadliest guided missile Russia is using in the war with Ukraine – have so far avoided European sanctions. They are still importing crucial missile components directly from EU countries as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile, the family of the CEO of KBM, which produces the Kinzhals, is building a life in Europe informs The Insider.

Since the war in Ukraine broke out, the Rostec State Corporation has ramped up the production of Kinzhals. The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is a supersonic missile based on the Iskander. The manufacturer claims it is harder to shoot down than other guided missiles. One Kinzhal costs Russia $10 million (about 50,000 average Russian old-age pensions).

Both the Iskanders and Kinzhals are produced by the Kolomna-based corporation KBM (the Russian abbreviation that stands for “Machine-Building Design Bureau”). KBM is a defense enterprise and R&D center that forms part of High Precision Systems, a group of companies within the Rostec Corporation. The enterprise is headed by Sergei Pitikov, 64, an incumbent who has worked at KBM almost all his life, since Soviet times.

When his bureau’s products began killing thousands of civilians in Ukraine, Pitikov did not quit. His exorbitant salary of almost $320,000 a year must have helped him come to terms with this controversy. (The salaries of ordinary employees are one-tenth of the amount: thus, an installer gets ~$530 a month pre-tax, an assembly fitter can hope for ~$640, and a machine operator gets ~$745 a month).

As The Insider found out, the daughter and grandchildren of Russia’s chief missile manufacturer live in Sweden, a soon-to-be NATO member. In 2021, Maya Pitikova even bought a house in the small town of Rydsgård near Malmö for about half a million euros. According to the Swedish registers (in Sweden the income of all residents is public), her and her partner’s total annual income is very modest, bordering on 80,000 euros. Buying a house with such a budget and without her father’s assistance would have been problematic. You could pull off a mortgage if you live frugally, but Pitikova doesn’t seem to have trouble making ends meet, having bought a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus last year for an amount comparable to her annual income.

Speaking to The Insider, Maya Pitikova said that “Putin’s regime is waging a criminal, bloody, senseless war,” but declined to comment further: “I’m not willing to participate in a conversation that is inherently directed at my father.”

Not only does Sergei Pitikov have family in Europe but he also has suppliers there: Kinzhal manufacturer’s contractors ship multiple indispensable components from Western countries. The Insider has previously written about American chips by Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and Altera that are used in Kinzhals. Moscow-based OOO ETC Electronics, a limited liability company established in 2021, imports these chips through a Chinese counterpart, ETC ELECTRONICS LIMITED.

The formal founder of ETC Electronics, Ekaterina Kulakovskaya, 38, works at a division of Rostec-owned company Micron. ETC Electronics already made an appearance at the wartime defense forum Army-2022, earning a certificate of appreciation from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Still, it is yet to fall under EU sanctions.

Kinzhal components are also being imported from Europe. Thus, according to the government procurement website, KBM receives Espec environmental test chambers from Moscow-based limited liability company OOO Ostek-Test. In turn, Ostek-Test has continued to import Espec equipment from Poland even during the war, as ImportGenius data suggests. The goods have been shipped by INTER-TRANS SP. Z O.O. from Siedlce (the Polish authorities are already looking into it).

However, the European country that stands out in terms of shipment volumes is Germany. Thus, KBM has procured lathes from limited liability company OOO KEB-RUS, a partner of the German company KEB, an authorized supplier of components and developer of industrial automation equipment. During the war, KEB-RUS has continued to import German cables, among other things.

KBM’s supplier of SANDVIK gun drills and other tools is a company called OOO Mir Stanochnika. This Russian defense contractor orders SANDVIK products from Berlin-based IR-LOGISTIK GMBH. For instance, there was a documented delivery of replacement work tools last January.

Among the developers of Kinzhal “brains” some name Rostec’s NIIEP (the Research Institute of Electronic Devices). Its contractor, the joint-stock company AO RADIANT-EK, also supplied integrated circuits directly to KBM. RADIANT-EK has kept up its imports during the war, purchasing coils and tapes for protective packaging of electronic components from Germany (more specifically, Advantek Gmbh).

Supplies are ongoing from other European countries as well. Take OOO Sonatek, for instance – another Russian company profiting off of government contracts with both NIIEP and KBM. Sonatek offers “state-of-the-art measuring and metalworking equipment by the world’s leading manufacturers.” A non-exhaustive list of Sonatek’s European trade partners features 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), and more.