Cutting corners: Faced with an unprecedented number of trade restrictions, Russia is now trying to legalize dubious imports of sought-after goods such as consumer goods and cars. Everything that the company that has ceased operations in Russia produces, from phones to expensive goods such as cars, is fair game.

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With the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, many companies suspended operations in Russia as a way to comply with trade restrictions and economic sanctions imposed on the country for starting this war. Social media platforms have blocked accounts of Russian state media, Apple has suspended the sale of products in retail stores, and game publishers and streaming companies denied access for their services to the citizens of Russia, to name but a few.

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More importantly, chip makers such as Intel and AMD suspended industrial sales to Russia, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether this would have any impact on the country, which relies on Asia for many of its infrastructure needs. Last month, the Biden administration reportedly called on Chinese tech companies to help with export controls against Russia. It seems that these efforts have already produced some notable results, which local authorities are trying to counteract.

Another consequence of trade restrictions is that Russia is considering legalizing digital piracy as a way to circumvent sanctions.

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First, Russia fast tracking plans to produce chips locally. No matter how ambitious it may sound, we are only talking about dreams of domestic silicon produced using the 28-nm process technology. For reference, China’s SMIC is already holding trial production runs for 14nm FinFET and 12nm nodes, with 7nm expected in the coming years. The plans are also highly unfeasible, given that China buys almost everything old lithographic machines found in the last two years.

Another consequence of trade restrictions is that Russia is considering legalization of digital piracy as a way to circumvent sanctions. BUT report from the Russian news agency CNews (spotted from Tom’s Hardware) argues that the country will apply a similar treatment to physical goods. In particular, the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade will allow “parallel imports” of certain foreign high-tech products, even if the manufacturer does not allow it.

The list includes 50 product categories and more than 200 brands, many of which have suspended sales in the country. It covers everything from smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs, game consoles, home appliances, cars, and even spare parts for all these products. As you might expect, this will not affect companies that are still operating in the country such as Asus, DJI, Gorenje, Honor, Oppo, Xiaomi, ZTE, Toshiba and many more.

Also read: Russia takes further steps towards Splinternet

This means that the Russian authorities will now turn a blind eye to unofficially imported goods and intellectual property theft. However, these are not all roses for Russian consumers, as these offers are not guaranteed.

As far as importers are concerned, those who import mobile devices may have to comply with the law, which requires install Russian-made software on them.

Overall, this move marks a complete reversal of the previous policy, which was consistent with international copyright law. Whether this will help Russia prevent shortages of much-needed foreign goods remains to be seen.

Head credit: Ian Taylor, Elena Mozhvilo