A photo of a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone) stamped with “Made in Ireland” shared by a Ukrainian official has prompted questions.
“The first photo shows a foreign engine carburetor of an Iranian UAV that attacked Mykolaiv,” Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said on Twitter on Tuesday, July 18.
"The carburetor, as well as hundreds of other parts, are made in Western and Asian countries.
"RF [Russian Federation] often erase serial numbers in foreign components. In the second photo, you can see it."
He said in a follow up tweet: "The RF has been buying foreign technological products for many years, but now, when they are becoming instruments of killing people, terrorism and genocide, this must be stopped.
"@sanctionsgroup suggests specific steps. New sanctions are needed."
Yermak made no specific mention of the clearly visible “Made in Ireland” stamp.
The RF has been buying foreign technological products for many years, but now, when they are becoming instruments of killing people, terrorism and genocide, this must be stopped.@sanctionsgroup suggests specific steps. New sanctions are needed.— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) July 18, 2023
Video footage circulating on social media purported to show Iranian-made Shahed drones attacking targets in the Mykolaiv region, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday, though it acknowledged there was no independent confirmation of the attack or the authenticity of the footage.
On Wednesday, July 19, during his unannounced visit to Ukraine, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked about the "Made in Ireland" stamp by a Ukrainian journalist.
"We are aware of that,” Varadkar replied. “We are investigating at the moment."
According to RTÉ, Varadkar said the Irish Government did not believe any Irish companies had evaded sanctions, but noted that there were third parties who were finding their way around them.
"We do take it very seriously," he added.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Varadkar, who met with President Zelenskyy and other officials in Kyiv, announced €5 million more in humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
This is the 21st century, national borders cannot be changed through violence, and democratically elected Governments like #Ukraine should not be overthrown by foreign invasion. We have to draw a line in the sand here and stand with @ZelenskyyUa and Ukraine as long as it takes pic.twitter.com/2syUNYCGWO— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) July 19, 2023
Also clearly visible in Yermak’s photo was the logo for Tillotson, a US company with a factory in Tralee, Co Kerry.
“We take the use of our products very seriously,” Tillotson said in a statement posted on its website on July 18, the day the photo circulate and the day before Varadkar responded.
“Most of our products are used in ordinary lawn and garden applications like chainsaws and weed trimmers or in recreational applications like go-karts and mini bikes.
“However, although we do not design for military applications, some of the smaller engines that use our products can be adapted for that purpose and so we take extra steps to monitor that 'dual use.'
"In that regard, we work closely with the government of the Republic of Ireland and CAR to monitor and track the sale and distribution of our products.
“In the first instance, we register our customers with the Republic of Ireland who help us flag any direct sales that would be of potential concern.
“If any downstream misuse occurs, we then work with the ROI and CAR to identify the potential source or sources.
"Our first step is to identify if the relevant product is genuine or a fake and, if genuine, the potential customers who may have purchased it.
"We can generally limit the list to a handful of customers in a manner we are not at liberty to disclose. If the product is fake, we attempt to gain additional information on it to identify the source of the fake.
“Through our efforts, we are also aware that our brand is commonly faked for lawn and garden purposes in China, and we have taken steps with the government of China to register our brand with their export controls to attempt to flag any unauthorized use.
"We are pleased with the cooperation between us and the relevant governmental agencies. We believe that together we have formulated effective ways to monitor and track the sale of our products and identify any potential areas of concern.”