Federal governments around the world are throwing sanctions at Russia in a mass condemnation of the ongoing Ukraine invasion. Next to the newly-announced oligarch “Kleptocapture” and the removal of Russian banks from SWIFT is the squeeze on tech imports, which has played a major part in the sharp rise of CPU prices in Russia over just the last few days.
Last week the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union introduced restrictions on exports to Russia spanning “microelectronics, telecommunications items, sensors, navigation equipment, avionics, marine equipment, and aircraft components.” Companies that wish to send these items to Russia must now apply for a license managed by the US government, with each application reviewed under a presumption of denial. Those who manage to get the green light can only do so if their exports reasonably influence humanitarian needs, safety of flight, maritime safety, and other essential functions—which, it’s safe to say, doesn’t cover most typical CPU exports. Two days after the sanctions took effect, both AMD and Intel publicly announced that they were halting all shipments to Russia. TSMC, which produces chips for multiple companies including AMD, Intel, and Nvidia, also agreed to comply with the new license requirements.
Russia’s national currency (the ruble) has also taken a nosedive, with a 30 percent decrease in value since mid-February. Volatility like this has a near-instant impact on the cost of goods. Coupled with widespread scarcity, this makes for a difficult time securing CPUs if you’re an average Russian citizen.
An Intel Core i5-12400 may “only” cost about $51 more in Russia than in the US right now (prior to VAT), but the price gap only gets more severe from there, according to calculations performed by Tom’s Hardware. Converted from ruble to USD, an i9-12900K is currently $1,570 in Russia—more than double than what it’s worth in the US at $615. An AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is $734 in Russia versus $600 in the US; a Ryzen 7 5700G swings between $430 and $1,040 overseas while it sits at $300 in the US. Russians interested in purchasing a new Apple MacBook Pro 14″ may pay anywhere from $2,687 to $4,300 while Americans pay the normal sticker price of $1,999. And we’re willing to bet very few people in Russia are considering the MacBook Pro 16″ right now: in Russia it carries a hefty $8,270 price tag, more than triple its US price of $2,499.
With no end to the Ukraine invasion in sight and a pre-existing supply shortage, there’s no telling how long the sticker shock will last. While some Russian companies make a point to sell off supply left behind by OEM’s or distributors, it’s possible that the demand for even that supply may reach a breaking point that keeps the elusive processors’ prices climbing.