Alleged Russia agent pleads not guilty to smuggling US tech, arms | Russia-Ukraine war News

Alleged Russia agent pleads not guilty to smuggling US tech, arms | Russia-Ukraine war News
Alleged Russia agent pleads not guilty to smuggling US tech, arms | Russia-Ukraine war News

An alleged Russian intelligence officer has pleaded not responsible in the USA to charges of violating sanctions, US export controls and cash laundering for smuggling US-origin electronics and ammunition to Russia to help its war against Ukraine.

Russian citizen Vadim Konoshchenok, who was extradited on Thursday from Estonia to the US, entered the plea at a listening to in federal courtroom in Brooklyn, New York, on Friday.

US Justice of the Peace Choose Ramon Reyes ordered Konoshchenok to be detained pending trial after prosecutors known as him a flight threat.

Sabrina Shroff, a US-based lawyer for Konoshchenok, declined to remark, and the Russian embassy in Washington didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Konoshchenok, 48, was detained by Estonian authorities in October 2022 whereas attempting to cross into Russia carrying 35 forms of semiconductors and digital parts, a few of which have been topic to US export controls. He was additionally accused of smuggling US-made ammunition generally used for sniper rifles, in response to prices filed towards him.

“Konoshchenok has additionally been repeatedly stopped by Estonian border officers making an attempt to smuggle a whole lot of hundreds of American-made and export-controlled rounds into Russia, together with 6.5 mm, 7 mm, .338 and .308 magnum rounds, that are generally utilized by snipers, in addition to military-grade .223 rounds,” the US Lawyer’s Workplace for the Japanese District of New York said in a statement.

“Thus far, over half a tonne [450kg] of military-grade ammunition linked to Konoshchenok has been recovered or interdicted earlier than being smuggled into Russia,” the assertion added.

Konoshchenok was allegedly a central determine in a seven-person smuggling ring, which included 5 Russians and two People who operated “beneath the course of Russian intelligence providers” to acquire US electronics and different items restricted by US export controls.

He faces as much as 30 years in jail for conspiracy, violation of export controls, smuggling and cash laundering.

The US justice division’s Andrew Adams mentioned Konoshchenok “allegedly supplied leading edge, American-developed applied sciences and ammunition to Russia to be used of their unlawful and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”.

In keeping with prosecutors, the suspect informed his co-conspirators in digital communications that he charged a ten % price for dealing in managed objects.

“Can’t do much less. Sanctions,” he wrote, in response to prosecutors.

Prisoner swaps

Konoshchenok’s extradition to the US comes as Washington seeks to barter the return of US citizens held by Moscow.

They embrace Paul Whelan, a company safety official convicted in a Russian courtroom of espionage, and Wall Road Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who’s dealing with prices of espionage.

The US denies both was concerned in spying, however has been in negotiations to see in the event that they may very well be swapped for Russians that it holds.

Final December, Washington traded jailed Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout for US basketball star Brittney Griner, who was jailed in Russia months earlier on drug prices.

In April 2022, Russia launched Trevor Reed, a former Marine imprisoned two years earlier for assaulting Russian cops.

On the identical time, the US freed a Russian pilot jailed for drug trafficking.

The US additionally holds Alexander Vinnik, a Russian cash launderer extradited from Greece final 12 months, and Vladimir Dunaev, a malware and ransomware hacker extradited from South Korea in 2021.

And Washington is in search of the extradition from Brazil of Sergey Cherkasov, an alleged Russian spy who attended graduate college in Washington beneath deep cowl.

Konoshchenok’s prosecution comes as US authorities search to ramp up enforcement of export controls and sanctions designed to hamper Moscow’s battle in Ukraine.

His subsequent scheduled courtroom look is July 31.


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