Two U.S. Citizens Arrested for Trying to Sell Military Technology to Russia

Vladimir Putin
April 4, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaEspionageCrimeFSBRussia-Ukraine WarLatvia

Two U.S. Citizens Arrested for Trying to Sell Military Technology to Russia

Russia has been using traditional spying (human and signals collection) and cyber operations to steal American technology. 


Although China is the most serious long-term threat to the national security of the United States, Russia remains a capable adversary. Moscow presents a multifaceted and acute threat to the United States and its NATO allies.

During the war in Ukraine, the United States has led an international coalition of more than forty countries in support of Kyiv. All the while, Russia has kept up its efforts to steal Western technology


Now, a Latvian arms broker has been arrested and charged for allegedly attempting to sell sophisticated avionics equipment to the Russian defense and aerospace industry in violation of U.S. export laws.

Dismantling Russia’s illicit networks 

According to the Department of Justice, Oleg Chistyakov and two U.S. citizens (Cyril Gregory Buyanovsky and Douglas Edward Robertson) conspired to sell, repair, and ship sensitive American avionics technology to Russia. They allegedly set up a company in the United States and sought to purchase the technology before shipping it out to Russia through a network of intermediaries. 

Chistyakov was arrested in Latvia, a NATO member state, in late March. He awaits extradition to the United States. 

“As alleged, Mr. Chistyakov facilitated hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit transactions to funnel sophisticated U.S. aerospace technology to companies in Russia,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a press release. “This arrest is another example of the Justice Department’s unwavering mission to hold accountable those who enable Russian aggression, including those involved in facilitation networks that fuel the Russian war effort.”

The Department of Justice suggests that the three men were handled by the Kremlin’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, a rough equivalent of the FBI. 

“The Justice Department upholds the laws of the United States and prosecutes those who break them regardless of whether those individuals are on U.S. soil or the other side of the world,” U.S. attorney for the district of Kansas Kate E. Brubacher stated. “Oleg Chistyakov’s arrest was only possible due to the assistance and cooperation of authorities in Latvia. This type of international cooperative effort makes it immensely challenging for those accused of committing crimes against the U.S. to find safe havens beyond reach of our judicial system.”

Russia has been using traditional spying (human and signals collection) and cyber operations to steal American technology. 

“The FBI and our partners continue to pursue anyone who aids Russia in its unjust and autocratic behavior or to violate export control laws or any other law for that matter,” Executive Assistant Director Larissa Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch stated. “Today’s indictment and forfeiture judgment should serve as a reminder that we will not tolerate attempts to transfer sensitive avionics equipment and technology to hostile nations.”

The Russian defense and aerospace industry has been suffering under Western sanctions. As a result, the Russian military has experienced difficulties equipping its forces in Ukraine with modern weapons systems. For example, semiconductors are hard to find in Russia, pushing the Russian military to extreme measures, raiding refrigerators, microwaves, and laundry machines for microchips to use in weapons systems.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense and national security journalist specializing in special operations. A Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), he holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.