In April 2014, Viktor Tarasov wrote to the head of Ruselectronics, a Russian state-owned holding company, about a critical shortage of military equipment. The Russian military lacked thermal imaging systems — devices commonly used to detect people and vehicles — and Tarasov believed that technology might be needed soon because of the “increasingly complex situation in the southeast of Ukraine and the possible participation of Russian forces” to stabilize the region.
Tarasov, in charge of Ruselectronics’ optical tech subsidiary, was hoping that the head of Ruselectronics would write to the minister of defense for armaments to advance his company 150 million rubles, then about $4 million, to buy 500 microbolometer arrays, a critical component of thermal imaging devices. The money, Tarasov wrote, would allow the company to buy the equipment under a current contract from a French company without the need for signing a new “end-use certificate,” which requires the buyer to disclose the final recipient.
Time was of the essence, he warned, because the West was preparing another round of sanctions against Russia that would slow the purchases and increase costs. Tarasov also claimed that the United States was already providing similar equipment to Ukrainian forces. (Pentagon spokesperson Eileen Lainez confirmed that the Department of Defense had provided thermal imaging devices and night-vision goggles to Ukraine in 2014, along with a variety of other military equipment).