Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) has included India’s CK Birla Group in its list of “international war sponsors” for its alleged supply of bearings to be equipped on Russian tanks and armored vehicles.
As per an official statement issued by NACP on May 19, CK Birla Group and its subsidiary National Engineering Industries Limited (NEI) helped the Russian military industry to replace critical European and American parts for military equipment, namely bearings.
Bearings are a critical part for many types of equipment: tanks, other armored and tracked vehicles, and aviation. In addition, bearings are necessary for the functioning of the railway - the main method of Russian military supply and all Russian logistics in general.
"The Russian military industry is surprisingly vulnerable to sanctions, because it is very dependent on imported supplies in several critical areas - optics, microelectronics, modern machine tools and somewhat unexpectedly - in bearings. Today, we include in the list of international war sponsors one of the manufacturers and suppliers of bearings for Russian military equipment - the CK Birla Group corporation. We call on this company and other manufacturers of dual-purpose goods to refuse to supply products to the terrorist state of the Russian Federation. You can still avoid the reputation of a cog, or bearing, of Putin's war machine. It's never too late to give up this bloody profit," Oleksandr Novikov, the Chairman of the NAZK was quoted as saying in the statement.
Despite the apparent simplicity of this part, the Russians are unable to produce bearings of sufficient quality and in sufficient quantity. In 2020 alone, Russia imported $419 million worth of bearings, with the biggest supplier being the U.S., and 55% of this volume came from the countries of Europe and North America. Germany was the largest exporter with 16% of bearings to Russia coming from the country, the NACP said.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, European and American bearing manufacturers left the Russian market. Due to the lack of these parts, Uralvagonzavod and Omsktransmash, the main tank-building and tank-repair enterprises of the Russian Federation, had to temporarily stop production activities. Significant problems arose in the construction of aircraft, ships, submarines and train maintenance, the statement claimed
One of the companies that has since supplied Russian companies was the CK Birla Group and its bearing brand NBC Bearings, the statement said adding that the share of NBC Bearings in the import of bearings from India to Russia amounted to 38.4%, for a total amount of $12.3 million. The main buyer in Russia was a group of companies- Evropeyskaya Podshipnykovaya Korporaciya (EPK) - a Russian industrial conglomerate whose products are actively used in the process of manufacturing locomotives, aviation, missile systems and other military equipment.