Russia imports Czech-made parts for Mi-8 helicopters through India and Kazakhstan, journalistic investigation finds

Russia has managed to arrange the supply of power units for Mi-8 helicopters manufactured by the Czech company PBS Velka Bites through military units in India and Kazakhstan, and the manufacturer has already launched an internal investigation.

Source: an investigation by the Trap Aggressor initiative for The Kyiv Independent, as reported by European Pravda

Details: PBS Velka Bites is a subsidiary of the Czech group of companies PBS, which produces components for the aviation, energy and transport industries. Auxiliary power units for Mi helicopters are the flagship product of PBS Velka Bites; they are an element that helps these helicopters take off.

The Czech company was actively supplying Safir 5K/G Mi power units to Russian customers before the full-scale invasion and even had an office in Moscow. After February 2022 and the imposition of sanctions, the supply has not stopped, but is simply carried out through intermediaries in Asia.

India’s Space Era, a company with close ties to Russia, is one such intermediary. In 2022-2023, it supplied the Kazan Helicopter Plant with 20 PBS Velka Bites power units worth US$8.5 million.

In addition, the Czech company cooperates with India's Deep Engineering (also linked to Russia) to maintain the Indian Air Force's Mi aircraft and sells it the components, which could then end up in Russia.

After the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, PBS Velka Bites also sold Mi-8 power units to Aircraft Repair Plant No 405 in Kazakhstan, which has longstanding ties to the Russian military-industrial complex.

Trap Aggressor sent an inquiry to the Czech company about the serial numbers of 20 Mi-8 power units that ended up in Russia. PBS Velka Bites indicated that nine of them were sold to the Indian Air Force in 2021, four to a plant in Kazakhstan and one to Deep Engineering.

PBS also added that it will check its customers for possible re-export of products to Russia in violation of sanctions.

Quote from The Kyiv Independent: "The Indian Air Force and the Kazakh Aircraft Repair Plant No 405 have long-standing ties with the Russian military-industrial complex, which means they may have both been able to help Russia acquire the necessary Czech-made parts by acting as an intermediary to bypass sanctions."

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