By Alexei Anishchuk
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (Reuters) – Russia’s defence industry is cutting down on its use of foreign electronics as a result of leaks by ex-U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, a Russian government official said on Monday.
Snowden’s actions in divulging details of U.S. government intelligence programmes had shown the need for arms makers to be careful in importing any equipment that contained software capable of transmitting sensitive data abroad, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.
Rogozin specifically referred to foreign-made lathes.
“Those lathes contain software which can have certain settings. They could either shut down at some point or transmit certain data about the engineering parameters of an assignment (in progress),” Rogozin, who oversees the defence industry, told reporters after a meeting on arms contracts chaired by President Vladimir Putin.
Russian officials have denied that Snowden has been debriefed by Russian security services.
“If we talk about electronic components used widely in the navy, air force and armoured vehicles, not to mention space … here we will also stick to the necessity of key electronic components being produced in Russia,” Rogozin, Russia’s former ambassador to NATO, said.
The Russian defence industry has been crippled by underfinancing after the fall of the Soviet Union and domestic electronic engineering has largely fallen behind, forcing producers to rely on foreign-made electronics.
Kremlin-backed project Glonass, its answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) system, has been marred by several botched launches which experts inside Russia have blamed on faulty foreign-made microchips.
Information leaked by Snowden, 30, includes details of a previously secret intelligence programme, Prism, which internal National Spy Agency documents suggested gave it direct access to data held by Internet companies.
Russia has refused to extradite Snowden, stuck in Sheremetyevo airport since arriving in Russia from Hong Kong on June 23, although the United States has promised not to execute or torture him if he is sent home. The case has increased strains in Russian-U.S. relations.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Raissa Kasolowsky)