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The city of Nizhny Novgorod. Intel has operated a major software development center in the city for decades. Photo by Bloomberg.

Intel’s Decades-Old Russian Software Operations Underscore Tough Choices for U.S. Tech Firms

Photo: The city of Nizhny Novgorod. Intel has operated a major software development center in the city for decades. Photo by Bloomberg.

When Intel Corp. suspended chip sales to Russia last week, it joined a stampede of U.S. tech companies cutting off sales after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But Intel’s ties to Russia run far deeper than chip sales.

For more than two decades, the company has operated a major software development center in Nizhny Novgorod, a city about 260 miles east of Moscow. Including staff at its Moscow office, Intel’s Russian workforce totals 1,200 people who work on key areas of Intel products such as autonomous driving and optimizing the architecture of Intel’s chips.

The Santa Clara, Calif.–based semiconductor giant, as well as other large U.S. tech companies with Russian workers, find themselves operating in a business climate that’s been upended overnight. Nvidia, IBM, Dell Technologies, Apple and Google also have offices in the country. As they navigate international scrutiny about business ties to Russia and operational challenges due to sanctions, their decisions could impact hundreds or thousands of Russian tech workers.

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