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The U.S. Is Weaponizing Semiconductors to Try to Rein In Russia

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An Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman stands in front of tanks of the 92nd separate mechanized brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces, parked in their base near Klugino-Bashkirivka village, in the Kharkiv region.

Credit: Sergey Bobok/Getty Images

Semiconductor chips, the seemingly unremarkable component responsible for derailing global supply chains over the past two years, may play a pivotal role in the international community's efforts to curtail Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Whether those tactics will actually work as intended remains far from certain.

Semiconductors have become the equivalent of 21st-century nuts and bolts, underpinning everything from smartphones to Ford F-150s. Though Russia and Ukraine aren't known for producing semiconductors, they are both critical sources of neon gas and palladium used to produce those coveted chips. As CNBC notes, the U.S.'s neon supply comes almost entirely from those two countries, a major dependency that has some experts worried about looming supply shocks that threaten to derail global supply chains just as shortages appeared to be coming under control.

For some context: neon prices saw an astounding 600% price increase during Russia's last conflict with Ukraine, in 2014. Making matters worse, Russia, Reuters notes, supplies the U.S. with about 35% of its palladium, a mineral integral to sensors and other applications relied on by the tech industry.

From Gizmodo
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