‘Made in Ireland’ parts found in Russian drones violating Western sanctions

That’s according to Defense and Security Expert, Declan Power, who was speaking after a picture of a recovered drone featuring a ‘Made in Ireland’ stamp emerged yesterday.

Speaking in Kyiv, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not believe Irish companies had evaded EU sanctions – which forbid the sale, supply or export of items that may benefit the Russian military or the development of its defence and security sector.

Mr Varadkar admitted it was possible for third parties to find a way around the EU sanctions, something he said Irish authorities “do take very seriously”.

The drone component was stamped with the name ‘Tillotson’, an American company operating out of a factory in Tralee, Co Kerry.

Tillotson makes small engines for garden equipment, furthering suspicions that the pictured component was repurposed by the manufacturers of the drone.

“There’s a history of parts from legitimate companies ending up in these kinds of munitions,” he said.

“Before the war in Ukraine began, Russia was engaged in various shady types of procurement programmes in order to avoid sanctions and that has stepped up since the EU and US sanctions have been ramped up.

“[Tillotson] systems are made for legitimate reasons – for non-military reasons – but like a lot of technology these days, it can be dual purpose.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting President Zelenskyy in Ukraine todayTaoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting President Zelenskyy in Ukraine (Photo by Office of the President of Ukraine)

Mr Power said this is not the first time Tillotson has been accused of producing products for military purposes, citing a three-year investigation which found the company had links to the illegal procurement of weapons in Afghanistan.

“It wasn’t that it was actual Tillotson product, it was products had been faked to look like Tillotson,” he said.

“When it was examined and investigated, it wasn’t their product at all.”

Irish government in action

The Government now needs to act quickly to find out how Russia got its hands on the product, Mr Power said.

“The optics of these things matter,” he said.

“In fairness, a company like Tillotson can’t be held responsible if they have sold something in good faith to a legitimate outlet and then that has been used or procured in some way.

“One of the questions here is, was the drone maybe manufactured in Iran as opposed to Russia?

“If that was the case, how did they get their hands on it? Is it an actual, genuine Tillotson product in this case? Or is it another example of it being faked?

“The one thing we should maintain is that we do this in solidarity with our EU partners because that makes any action stronger and likely to stick.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting President Zelenskyy in UkraineTaoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting President Zelenskyy in Ukraine (Photo by Office of the President of Ukraine)

In a statement this morning, The Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment said: “Ireland implements a robust export control policy, which includes the application of the relevant EU and international standards for export control.

“Any breach of export controls is taken very seriously and the potential use of Irish components in Iranian drones used by the Russian Federation in Ukraine is being investigated, by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. 

“The Department is also actively working with Conflict Armament Research, which is funded by the EU, to ensure, insofar as possible, that Irish components do not end up, either intentionally or unintentionally, in conflict zones around the world.”

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