After we published the results of investigations into how Russian Kendzal guided missile contractors obtained the necessary goods from Europe, many Western companies were quick to disavow this cooperation. Among these companies is Baltic Shipping Agency LTD, which said it did not engage in “illegal activities aimed at circumventing sanctions.” However, the article was not about “circumventing” the sanctions, but rather about the loopholes in the sanctions policy that still allow the supply of goods to Russian military contractors completely legally.
For example, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Baltic Shipping Agency provided logistics services in the supply of measuring machines to the Russian company Sonatec. This Moscow-based company not only makes purchases on behalf of Kindzhal manufacturers, but – as The Insider discovered – it also supplies measuring equipment to dozens of other arms companies in Russia.
The family of Sonatek's owners settled in Brussels, and from there runs a business reselling foreign machinery from Belgium to Russia. Although government procurement in the defense sector has been downgraded in recent years, The Insider has information that Russian company Sonatec provided supply and maintenance services to at least 18 Russian defense industry companies in 2022 alone. Sonatec imports precision machinery equipment from several countries, including from Italy. (from Tomelleri Engineering), Germany (Messtechnik) and Great Britain (Aberlink).
Russia is unable to produce such devices on its own, which are necessary for the production of elements of modern weapons systems. Therefore, the Russian military-industrial complex relies heavily on machines provided by Sonatec.
Under the watchful eye of the European Commission and NATO
Sonatek's owner and CEO is Ruslan Lapin, 35, a graduate of the Moscow Aviation Institute, part of the Russian Defense Ministry. His older brother Roman is also linked to the Ministry of National Defence: in any case, during the lockdown during the pandemic, he used a pass issued by the Ministry of National Defence.
Both brothers, together with their father Victor, run a company in Belgium. They run Groupe d'Investissement Financier, founded by their father, Victor Lapin, the hero of this story.
We know from databases that when Viktor Lapin lived in Moscow, his registered address was GRU University Residence at ul. Narodnoje Opłoczeie 52, house 4. He later settled in Zelenograd, in a house where some apartments were intended for soldiers. We don't know when he moved to Belgium, but in 2000 he was already living in Brussels on Winston Churchill Street.
For deliveries to Russia, Łabin Groupe d'Investissement Financier is used. Groupe ships goods directly to Russia, most often to Sonatek's address in Moscow, but in April 2023 it began using a courier from Turkey with a similar name to its Belgian company: Groupe d'Investissement Financi Osborne. Now deliveries to Sonatek in Russia will go through it.
Lapin's office is located just 15 minutes from the European Union headquarters, at Rue de la Ferme Rose 7. There we met Victor Lapin, who assured us that “after the sanctions” and the start of the war in 2022, he would not do this. He promises to supply his son's company to Moscow (we know this is not true).
The Groupe d'Investissement Financier office is located in this building in Brussels
Wiktor Łabin has another company in Belgium: Projet Plus. It was officially registered at the address of the Russian's apartment: an apartment house with the name “Lapin” written on the bell and on the mailbox.
The house in Brussels where Victor Lapin lives
Fighters against the West
While Ruslan Lapin helps his father in Moscow with his business, his brother Roman Lapin lives permanently in Brussels. Roman Lapin also receives money to live in Belgium from his brother's Russian company: in 2022, Sonatek paid him 3.3 million rubles (150 thousand PLN) to broker the import of a certain Mitsubishi device.
Roman Shapin likes to show his devotion to Russia and its allies. In the video below, he reads a plea to support Syrian dictator Assad and condemn the United States of America during a rally in Paris in 2013…
…and here in the middle of Brussels in 2014 fighting “Ukrainian fascism” by supporting the annexation of Crimea:
Viktor Lapin's wife does not lag behind the family: in her social networks she expresses her strong support for the war in Ukraine, mourning the death of her comrades-in-arms in 2016 Pro-Russian warlord “Motorola” in Donbas:
Post by Vera Łabina from 2016 on the Russian site WKontakt
As for Ruslan Labin, he is more cautious. He has closed his social media accounts, but he does not have to voice his pro-war stance – his activities as head of Sonatec speak for themselves.
In his correspondence with The Insider, Ruslan Lapin did not deny that his company Sonatek is a subcontractor for 18 Russian arms companies: “These are our customers, we used to supply them with something, and maybe now we supply it too.” When asked directly whether he and his family members were employees of the Ministry of Defense, he replied: “My father is a businessman, but my brother and I were not in the army.” He added a smiley face at the end of the sentence.
In a telephone interview with The Insider, Viktor Lapin, in response to a question about whether he was linked to the GRU, answered briefly:
The text was created in collaboration with Anastasia Mikhailova
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