Russian state companies — including those in occupied Crimea — have purchased Microsoft software, bypassing sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.
Enterprises blacklisted under the sanctions bought no less than five thousand Microsoft products worth more than $1 million in total, Reuters reported, citing information from the Russian government procurement database.
The news raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the sanctions, imposed on Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
Among the buyers were the Almaz-Antey company, which manufactures the Buk anti-aircraft system likely used in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and Glavgosexpertiza, which is involved in the construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait to connect Crimea to Russia.
Both companies purchased the Microsoft software with an open license, which requires disclosing the buyer’s bank details.
In all cases, the software was purchased through third parties. An unnamed representative of one of the reseller companies told Reuters that, “if all the Microsoft products in Crimea were to be shut down today, 90% of the Crimean economy would stop.”
Microsoft told the news agency that is is looking into its products being sold to Russia in circumvention of the sanctions.