Five Russians were charged by U.S. prosecutors for sanctions evasion and other violations.
The five Russian nationals, as well as two oil brokers for Venezuela, were charged with setting up a network of shell companies to illegally send U.S. military technology to Russian buyers, as well as millions of oil from Venezuela to Russian and Chinese buyers.
All of this avoids U.S. sanctions.
The charges and sanctions come as Washington is seeking to expand sanctions on Russia and crack down on evasion to pressure the Kremlin to stop its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russians are charged with shipping military technology that was purchased by Russian buyers from U.S. manufacturers. Some of the military tech ended up on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Federal prosecutors said the electronic components purchased by Russian nationals Yury Orekhov and Svetlana Kuzurgasheva included semiconductors, radars, and satellites. Some of the electronics obtained through the scheme have been found in Russian weapons platforms seized in Ukraine.
The arrests were part of a wider move by the Justice Department on sanctions and export violations. The Justice Department charged nearly a dozen people and two companies in connection with illegal schemes to send military technology to Russia, some of which has allegedly been recovered from battlefields in Ukraine.
Some of the defendants also tried to send “nuclear proliferation technology” to Russia, but that it was intercepted before it arrived, the statement said.
The charges were laid out in two separate indictments, which outlined two distinct schemes to move weapons technology and other goods into Russia.
Two of the Russian nationals were arrested abroad and are set to undergo extradition proceedings. All seven are facing multiple conspiracy charges.
Orekhov was arrested in Germany on Monday. Another Russian charged in the case, Artem Uss, was arrested in Italy. The United States is seeking his extradition.
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Orekhov as well as two companies he controls, Nord-Deutsche Industrieanlagenbau GmbH, also known as NDA, and Opus Energy Trading.
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