2 plead guilty to exporting U.S. electronics used in Russian weapons

A Canadian national and a New York resident pleaded guilty on Tuesday to illegally exporting millions of dollars worth of U.S. electronics that were used in Russian weapons in Ukraine, the Justice Department said.

Nikolay Goltsev, 38, of Montreal, and Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, 53, of Brooklyn, face up to 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit export control violations, the department said in a statement.

According to federal prosecutors, some of the electronic components shipped by the defendants have been found in seized Russian weapons platforms and signals intelligence equipment in Ukraine, including an airborne counter missile system, Ka-52 helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and battle tanks.

Russia Ukraine
In this photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Friday, April 12, 2024, a Ka-52 helicopter gunship of the Russian air force fires rockets at a target at an unknown location in Ukraine.

/ AP

“The defendants shipped millions of dollars of U.S. electronics critical to the missiles and drones Russia uses to attack Ukraine, and they now face U.S. prison time for their scheme,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “As Russia continues to wage its unjust war of aggression against Ukraine, the department remains committed to holding accountable those who fuel Putin’s war machine.”

According to court documents, Goltsev, Nasriddinov and Goltsev’s wife, Kristina Puzyreva, who pleaded guilty in February, conspired to ship more than $7 million in dual-use U.S. electronics to sanctioned Russian companies.

“Some of these components were critical to Russia’s precision-guided weapons systems being used against Ukraine,” the Justice Department said.

In a Feb. 23, 2023, message, prosecutors say Nasriddinov wrote to Goltsev, “Happy Defender of the Fatherland,” referring the holiday in Russia celebrating military veterans. Goltsev responded, “happy holiday to you too my friend, we are defending it in the way that we can [smile emoji].”

The U.S. expanded existing sanctions and export controls on Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. At the time, Russia already faced sanctions linked to its 2014 incursion into Ukraine, use of chemical weapons and election interference.

Nasriddinov and Goltsev shipped the components through front companies in several countries, including Turkey, India, China and the United Arab Emirates, from where they were rerouted to Russia.

Goltsev, a dual Russian-Canadian national, and Nasriddinov, a dual Russian-Tajik national, are to be sentenced in a federal court in New York in December.

Puzyreva is awaiting sentencing.

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