WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Thursday arrested two Kansas men on allegations that the pair illegally exported aviation-related technology to Russia and provided repair services for the equipment.
Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Robertson 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.
The charges come as the U.S. has drastically ramped up sanctions and financial penalties on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, 2022. Along with thousands of sanctions on people and firms, export controls on the Kremlin are meant to limit access to computer chips and other products needed to equip a modern military.
The Justice Department says Buyanovsky and Robertson owned and operated KanRus Trading Co., which allegedly supplied aircraft electronics to Russian companies and provided repair services for equipment used in Russian-manufactured aircraft.
The indictment says that since 2020, they conspired 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. Lawyers for Buyanovsky and Robertson couldn’t be identified from the provided documents, and the Justice Department didn't 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, said at an American Bar Association event in Miami Thursday that state actors like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are trying to “take advantage of rapid advances in technology,” adding that sensitive technologies being sent to these countries are “top of our list from an enforcement perspective.”
Since the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said they would increase enforcement and sanctions on people and entities that assist Russia in the procurement of weaponry and technology that would bolster its military.