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Like “The Americans” but real: a family from a suburban United States trafficked chips to arm Russia

The perfect couple.  Alexey and Daria Brayman in their Facebook portrait.  The US justice system accuses them of participating in a gang of spies that provided Russia with chips and other parts of sensitive military material.  (Facebook)
The perfect couple. Alexey and Daria Brayman in their Facebook portrait. The US justice system accuses them of participating in a gang of spies that provided Russia with chips and other parts of sensitive military material. (Facebook)

The ornaments of Christmas from the porch of the house at 30 Ellie Drive, in this town of merrimackat the foot of the mountains of New Hampshire, they end up giving a perfect framework to the American suburbia. Just some artificial branches with white glass balls, a santa claus small to one side and white and light blue lights. Of course, the immaculate park, the driveway that leaves the garage onto the street and the 4×4 truck waiting there for any quick exit to the supermarket or to pick up the kids from school. Hardly out of place that pile of boxes delivered by the drivers of Amazon Y Fedex which are still on the inside of the porch, next to the front door adorned with a wreath of mistletoe. Everything exudes that perfection so New England in the family home braymana couple of Ukrainian-Israeli immigrants who arrived in Merrimack in 2019 and how well they adapted to this society with their two children and their prosperous company of luminous decorations.

according to boston globenone of the neighbors thought of anything else when they saw the police in front of the house of Alexei and Daria Brayman this week: an accident, an assault. No one could have imagined that there, in that two-story residence that contributes so well to the aesthetic harmony of the place, what now seems to be a new episode of the series was taking place. “The Americans”, the family of Soviet agents infiltrated in the suburbs of Washington. This time, a couple using their lighting company’s screen to purchase chips and other sensitive digital parts to manufacture the missiles that Russia is using it to bomb the land where they were born. But on Tuesday morning, that perfect image was shattered when Alexey Brayman35, and six other people were prosecuted by the US federal court that accuses them of directing an international smuggling network that illegally funneled sensitive military technology to Moscow.

Brayman was arrested shortly thereafter and appeared Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Concord. The next day he was released on $150,000 bail, he was ordered to surrender his passport and is subject to travel restrictions and house arrest. They also arrested two other accomplices, one in New Jersey, Vadim Yermolenkowhich fulfilled the same functions of triangulating purchases and another, Vadim Konoshchenokon the Republic of Estonia that the merchandise passed through the Russian border. His wife, Daria, who was born in Ukraine and has lived in Russia for several years, is under investigation, but so far she has not been arrested. According to the prosecutor Eastern District of New York, both bought and shipped to the Russian network “advanced electronics and sophisticated test equipment used in quantum computing, hypersonic and nuclear weapons development, and other military and space applications.” Such items, according to the researchers, “could significantly contribute to the military potential or nuclear proliferation of other nations or be detrimental to the national security of the United States.”

The town of Merrimack, in New Humpshire, ultra-conservative and in favor of free gun sales, where the Brymans were hiding, sending chips for Russian missiles.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The town of Merrimack, in New Humpshire, ultra-conservative and in favor of free gun sales, where the Brymans were hiding, sending chips for Russian missiles. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

“You need these things to attack very specific targets, like a power plant or a hospital”explained James Byrne, director of the Royal United Services Institute, in an interview with the boston globe. “They are a very important part of how Russia wages war.” Despite the widespread sanctions – and despite the insistence of US officials that economic sanctions have had a chilling effect on Russian war efforts – there is no doubt that US-made materials continue to flow into Moscow. Investigators identified hundreds of electronic components produced by US-based companies in Russian weapons systems recovered by Ukraine, according to a recently released report by the agency. Reuters and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). “Russia has a lot of experience sourcing those components, they have long experience doing it, and it’s something they take very seriously,” said Nick Reynolds, a co-author of the report and a research analyst at the institute. “The people who do that are valuable assetsas important as an agent infiltrated in a military structure”.

In the ten months of war in Ukraine, after the Russian invasion on February 24, the Kremlin forces launched about 10,000 missiles against civilian targets and Ukrainian energy infrastructure, killing thousands of people. And all those lethal gadgets were powered by smart parts made by Texas Instruments Inc; Altera, owned by Intel Corp; Xilinx, owned by Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD); Maxim Integrated Products Inc, acquired last year by Analog Devices Inc. and chips made by Cypress Semiconductor, now owned by Germany’s Infineon AG. All of these components were found in the parts recovered from the missiles dropped by the Russians. Components from these companies were also used in the kamikaze drones that the Iranian regime delivered to Russia. Some of these passed through the Braymans’ home in New Hampshire. and ended up in the hands of those who assemble missiles and drones in Russian factories.

According to prosecutors investigating the case, the Braymans are part of an organization known as serniyaa worldwide network of Russian agents and front companies with clients such as the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Federal Security Service, or FSB. US officials say Serniya is “instrumental and essential” to the Russian war machine. Another of those involved Boris Livshits, also a Russian national and a Brooklyn resident, bought sanctioned items from US electronics companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Using the alias “David Wetzky”, Livshits shipped the items to the Braymans’ house in Merrimack. In March 2022, 18 days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Brayman and Livshits had a phone conversation in which they agreed to send the chips to Russia via Germany. “The good way or the bad way”according to the accusation.

Liubov Onyschenko, trying to recover some personal items from his house heavily damaged last week by a Russian missile attack in the village of Kupriyanivka, Zaporizhia region, Ukraine.  REUTERS/Stringer
Liubov Onyschenko, trying to recover some personal items from his house heavily damaged last week by a Russian missile attack in the village of Kupriyanivka, Zaporizhia region, Ukraine. REUTERS/Stringer

Brayman regularly shipped shipments to Vadim Konoshchenok, a Russian citizen and suspected FSB agent in Estonia, who authorities say then smuggled the goods across the Russian border. On one of those trips, at the end of October, Konoshchenok was detained and found 35 different types of semiconductors and electronic components, according to court documents. Tens of thousands of rounds of US ammunition were also found on him, including very special sniper bullets made in Nebraska.

Apparently, the FBI and the CIA they were after the organization for at least six months and discovered that they maintained a sophisticated network to divide the shipments and fabricate false invoices in the names of dozens of people. The same was the case with payments that were transferred to dozens of banks before the money arrived “laundered” in the United States. In October, a Nevada judge signed an order placing a tracking device on a “signal generator” bought by Livshits to an Illinois company. With the company’s cooperation, investigators followed the trail of the item from a shipping point in Nevada to Merrimack, before intercepting it at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where it had been repackaged and was en route to Germany. That’s when federal agents began monitoring shipments arriving at 30 Ellie Drive, in the Christmas movie Merrimack, at the Braymans’ perfectly manicured home.

Keep reading:

Why Russia and Ukraine are running out of ammunition and the alarms are sounding
Russian troops continue their withdrawal and Melitopol is the new key city
Vladimir Putin was about to launch a nuclear war in Ukraine but his spies and generals prevented him

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