German Leica supplies Russia with binoculars and scopes, despite the announcement of withdrawal from the market – SMI
After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the German camera manufacturer Leica Camera AG announced the cessation of imports to the Russian Federation and the closing of its store in Moscow, but contrary to its promise, it not only extended deliveries, but also began supplying the aggressor country with binoculars with a laser rangefinder and night vision scopes. This was reported by the Russian publication The Insider.
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“Laser rangefinders and levels of the Swiss company Leica Geosystems also end up in Russia, albeit through third countries. The equipment can be used for military purposes, for example, to adjust artillery fire,” the material says.
It is noted that on March 16, 2022, the Macfilos profile publication with reference to the press release of Leica Camera AG announced that the company is winding down its activities in Russia and will soon close the only company store in the country.
The departure of the company was written by many resources that track the position of international companies after the start of a full-scale invasion – for example, the Yale School of Management. But the company’s real actions differ from the press release.
Read more: During transit through the Russian Federation, more than $1 billion worth of EU-sanctioned goods “disappeared”.
Leica is one of the niche manufacturers of luxury cameras and optics, but in addition to cameras, it also produces scopes, binoculars and glasses under the Mykita brand. The company’s turnover in the 2021/22 financial year grew by 16% and amounted to 450 million euros. In Russia, Leica Camera has its own branch – LLC “Leica Camera Rasha”, as well as a company store in the Moscow GUM.
At the same time, as evidenced by the Russian registers, instead of the termination of work in Russia announced by the German company, LLC “Leika Camera Rasha” only changed its name to LLC “Vechernyaya Zvezda” on April 6, 2023.
“At the same time, the founders of the company remained the same. 99% of the Russian company belongs to Leica Camera Austria GmbH, another 1% to AHK Vermögensverwaltung GmbH. The company is headed by German citizen Klaus Hauer, who previously worked in the Russian representative office of Volkswagen,” the article says.
At the same time, the Russian branch of “Leika” was supposed to become an ambassador of German quality in the field of optics in Russia – at least, this is what corporate statements indicated.
“But after the war, the company allegedly changed its specialization in ultra-expensive cameras to dual-use products. If in 2020 and 2021 “Leica Camera Rush” received only one declaration for binoculars with rangefinders, in 2022 everything happened exactly the opposite: the company issued only one declaration for the import of cameras and three for night vision devices.
Already after the beginning of the full-scale invasion and after the crimes of the Russian army in Buche became the property of the press, Leika Camera Rush issued three declarations for the import of binoculars and scopes: on July 6, November 18, and December 15, 2022. Similar declarations are obtained for customs clearance of the first batch of goods. The following deliveries are usually made according to the existing declaration to save money,” the publication notes.
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It is also emphasized that, despite the official neutrality of Switzerland, Swiss equipment, including laser rangefinders and tachyometers, end up in Russia.
These geodetic devices are used to measure distances and angles of inclination to distant objects and can be used to adjust artillery fire. For example, the Leica TS07 R500 total station, when using a reflector, can survey areas at a distance of up to 10 km.
Geodetic equipment “Leyky” is produced by the Swiss company Leica Geosystems AG. In Russia, this company operated through its subsidiary company “Hexagon Geosystems Rus”.
In Russia, there are still a number of companies that call themselves official dealers of Leica geodetic devices: Geooptyk, Geospectr, Rusgeokom, Profpribor, and TsPI. On the websites of many of them, it is indicated that the equipment is available.
In total, from May 2022 to April 2023, Russian importers issued 24 declarations for Leica Geosystems AG products, importing them through Chinese and Turkish intermediaries. A number of these companies were previously suppliers of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and law enforcement agencies.
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Source: Ministry of Finance