China’s Military Support for Russia: US and Allies Issue Warnings
Reports have circulated among various security officials of a few nations that China is providing lethal weapons to Russia in support of its war in Ukraine. According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, China is in talks with a Chinese drone maker to supply Russia with 100 ZT-180 prototype drones that are capable of carrying a 35-50kg warhead. In addition, China had also planned to deliver spare parts for Russia’s SU-27 fighter jets and other models by falsifying shipping documents to make the parts for military aircraft appear to be replacement parts for civilian aviation.
The US and its allies have actively been sharing intelligence on the matter and have publicly warned China not to go ahead with providing the equipment. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated that such a move would cause “a serious problem” for the US-China relationship. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, has denied that China has provided arms sales to conflict areas or belligerents.
The US has also begun to see “disturbing trend lines” in China’s support for the Russian military, officials said. The US had previously confronted Beijing directly about the military assistance to ascertain how complicit the central government had been. Reports have also surfaced that China supplied satellite images of Ukrainian areas to Russia’s mercenary group Wagner PMC and commercial drones are being sent to Russia for reconnaissance purposes.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had told ZDF public television that “this cannot be accepted” when asked about reports that China might help Russia. China has proposed a “peace plan” for the Ukraine war but US officials remain highly skeptical of it. NATO nations, notably the US, are the leading suppliers of munitions for the battlefield in Ukraine despite persistent claims that China may be transferring weapons to Russia.
It is clear that the provision of drones and ammunition, likely for small arms like handheld weaponry rather than larger artillery, would mark a significant escalation of China’s support for Russia. In the face of US and European warnings, it remains to be seen whether or not China proceeds with the transfer of weapons to Russia.
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