China Shipped Assault Rifles, Body Armor and Drone Parts to Russia – Reports
Chinese companies had sent assault rifles, body armor and drone parts to Russia last year in what appears to be the first documented evidence that Beijing is supplying Russian companies with dual-use goods, Politico Europe reported, citing customs data.
The shipments took place between June and December 2022, the outlet said Thursday, citing customs data aggregator ImportGenius.
China could rely on dual-use items “to quietly increase its aid to Moscow while avoiding the retaliation that officials in Washington and Europe have threatened in recent weeks,” Politico Europe wrote.
One of China’s largest state defense contractors, China North Industries Group Corporation Limited, reportedly sent 1,000 CQ-A assault rifles in June to Tekhkrim, a Russian company that deals with the state and the Russian army.
It was not immediately clear if Russian troops were using any of the rifles, which are modeled after the M16 and have been used by armed forces in Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to Politico Europe.
More than 12 tons of Chinese bulletproof vests were also sent to Russia via Turkey at the end of 2022, according to Politico Europe. It was apparently part of a $10 million worth of nearly 80 tonnes of body armor delivered mainly from Turkey, with some shipments arriving via the United Arab Emirates and China.
“This is the first confirmation that China is sending rifles and body armor to Russian companies,” Politico Europe said.
A small Russian distributor reportedly received 12 shipments of drone parts, including batteries and cameras, from Chinese drone maker DJI via the United Arab Emirates in November and December 2022. DJI drones were spotted on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Russia has relied on China and other countries for navigational equipment, satellite imagery, vehicle components and other raw materials for months, according to Politico Europe.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington told Politico that Beijing “is not a party to the crisis and has not supplied arms to any of the parties to the conflict.”
“China did not create the crisis,” spokesman Liu Pengyu said, adding that Beijing is “determined to promote peace talks.”
Western officials have recently accused Beijing of considering supplying the Russian military with weapons that could tilt the nature of the fighting in Russia’s favor.