State companies and organizations in Russia and Crimea have acquired software created by Microsoft, even though sanctions bar companies based in the U.S. from conducting business with the two governments, official documents show.
Per the reports, the countries have purchased more than 5,000 Microsoft products worth 60 million rubles, which is about $1.03 million. The acquisition of the software, registered on the state procurement database in Russia, brings to light the limitations of how foreign firms and governments enforce the sanctions by the U.S. that were imposed in 2014 on Russia because of its annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.
“Microsoft has a strong commitment to complying with legal requirements, and we have been looking into this matter in recent weeks,” said Microsoft.
“We have robust trade compliance processes around the world to help ensure that our partners comply with all conditions, including immediate halting of suspected improper sales by partners, and strong measures to try to prevent banned customers from accessing and using our products and services.”
It has also been said that users have exploited a gap in Microsoft’s software by using them fake data about their identities.
Third parties sold the products, and there is no proof that Microsoft sold any products directly to the entities that were under sanctions by the U.S.
Microsoft said that the company maintains a strong commitment to comply with legal requirements and has been investigating the matter.
The companies that acquired Microsoft products include Almaz-Antey, manufacturer of the BUK surface-to-air missile. Dutch prosecutors say a BUK missile brought down a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over east Ukraine in July 2014, but Russia denies its forces shot down the plane. The software is critical for many companies and groups in Crimea and Russia for their operations.